1000 a Day – Day 15

First, a tangent: I think I want to redesign this site. I’ve been looking at it for a while now and it’s starting to get boring. I’m thinking something with a few more colors, mostly earth tones or darker tones, and possibly a three-column layout. I’m imagining maintaining most of the elements of this current layout, specifically the sidebar, but splitting it in two so that I can keep one that’s static along with a static and much thinner header. I’m thinking of also moving the two dynamic footers into the main body and have them plus the actual blog be in a sort of accordion style display so one can toggle between them. But who knows!

Some short memories of my first school in the States, Don Benito Fundamental in Pasadena, for first and perhaps second grade, I don’t remember specifically; these are all the memories I have of that school:

There was one teacher who I liked the best, and who seemed to care about me the most. I don’t remember her name, but I remember she was old, had curly white hair, and wore glasses. She used to help me figure out difficult math problems because she knew that those were the only problems she could help me with since my English was still so poor at the time. I’d be sitting at my desk, she’d be hunched over me, and she take me step by step, showing me by example more than anything, of how to do fancy addition. She’d show me once and I’d understand, and she’d give me a big smile telling me how pleased she was that I had learned something new.

I stopped wanting to speak Chinese as soon as I could speak any English. It was just the nature of the time; my parents wanted me to master English as soon as possible so it just disappeared. I touched on this before, but only until very recently I found the prospect of speaking Chinese highly uncomfortable. I didn’t like how the language sounded, and I didn’t like the idea of having to make those sounds. Obviously those prejudices have changed, but the point was that at that very early age, I stopped speaking it, and never wanted to again. But there was one time, at school, when it became necessary for me to do so. There was another Chinese student there, of all things, not much unlike myself when I was younger who also didn’t speak any English. I had learned English by then and so it fell to me, or so the teachers would like to think, to try to speak to this young child. They wanted to know what time his parents were coming to pick him up. I made some show about not wanting to speak or not knowing how, but they finally convinced me. I was embarrassed. I walked up to the child, unsure of what to do, then leaned in very close to his ear and literally whispered to him, asking in Chinese what time his parents were coming. I was terrified that someone would overhear me so I spoke as softly as I could, to the point where I’m not even sure if the other boy understood me because I don’t remember anything that happened after. I don’t know if I was successful in getting the answer.

The only time I’ve ever cheated in school was during these surprise spelling quizzes they would give us at the beginning of class. There was a big stand at the front of the classroom with lists of words on it that the teacher would flip to a new one of every day. I remember the words as being quite challenging actually, very long with many letters, and I hated having to do these quizzes. I felt at the time it wasn’t actually as if I was learning anything. It didn’t include the meanings of the words so it’s not like I acquired some new vocabulary, it was really more of a lesson in rote memorization and who can do it the fastest because the teacher would flip to the new set of words and only give us a few minutes before asking us to write down again all the words on a piece of paper. Now I’ve always sucked at rote memorization, and still do, and definitely did then. There was no way I could do what they wanted me to, so I would take my mechanical pencil and very lightly, all the while still looking at the words intently as if I was trying to memorize them, write all the words on my desk as small as possible. When it came time to take the quiz then, I had all the words written down and would of course ace the quiz, every time. I’d then lick my finger casually and smear my cheat sheet off the desk nonchalantly.

Even though I sucked at rote memorization of words, I seemed able to do it quite well when it came to spatial patterns. My school at the time had a “gifted” program that I was accepted in to. It took place during a special class session and we had our very own teacher and there were just a few of us. I don’t remember doing very much along the ways of studying, but we did play a lot of cards. Specifically, the teacher she’d lay matching cards shuffled face down on the table and you’d have to pick out the pairs; I’m sure everyone’s played this game, and I was quite good at it. Due to my lack of actual memories involving learning anything special, by which I mean my lack of doing anything in this “gifted” program other than playing cards, I’ve since to wonder whether it was really a “gifted” program or more of a “special” program…I mean, I was an immigrant, with only limited grasp of English (though I did fix that rather soon), maybe I’m painting too pretty of a picture on my early, early education to think that I was already “gifted” instead of just “special” at the time. And by “special” I mean “short bus” special if you know what I mean.

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maria | April 7th, 2010 

This is a great picture of an experience…

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