Transients. Outsiders. Intruders. Newcomers. That’s who we were—all six of us. We had no choice, as during the first 25 years of my parents’ marriage, they moved 27 times. As children, we moved with them, of course.
For us, staying in one school the whole academic year was a rare experience. I remember new schools as they came over and over again; their offices where my mother explained that our records should follow us soon (while many times they didn’t); the school nurses who tested us for worms (We were so thin that nurses thought we were malnourished—we weren’t.); the children who whispered behind their hands; the teachers whose classrooms were already too full; the lonely recesses and lunchrooms; the relief when the bell rang and finally the humiliation of unstructured social time stopped.
In fact, I didn’t realize that my life was somewhat uncommon. It was, after all, the way my life consistently unfolded. I had no other experience with which to compare it. I don’t remember feeling sad about it, just bewildered and a bit scared a lot of the time.
Today, as I think about children and immigration, I remember my transient life in and out of schools. Yet, even though considered outsider, I remember that I was never afraid that I would be taken out of a school by society. Yes, my parents moved me from one school to another, but every one of those schools had to accept me. That measure of acceptance made a great difference for me.
Episode #2 coming soon!