Going to a new school was strange. You see my sister and I ended up going to different schools. I was in the 6th grade and she was in 8th or 9th. I didn’t understand why we had to go to different places but everyone said we did. As far as I could tell she fit right in, but then she always did where ever she went or whatever she was doing. But not me.
This school was so different than what I had been used to. First of all it was only K through 6 and I was used to K through 12. I was used to talking to everyone and mingling with everyone. Here it seemed that you really only mingled or socialized with your own grade.
But far more important was the fact that I returned to a school that was quite white. I don’t think I realized right then that would end up being a problem for me, but eventually it would come into play.
First though came a few other problems. I was of course the new kid and not everyone at this school knew how to accept new kids. They had all, or most, gone through school together and had very few people joining them, especially in the middle of the year such as I did. I am not and never have been one that makes friends easily so I blame myself just as much. But my old school in Singapore had kids coming and going at all times. We were used to the “new kid” and they were very easily accepted. I did not feel accepted then, nor did I, in fact, feel accepted for a very long time.
Then one night my sister went to a game or a dance, I really don’t recall which one. I was not allowed to go though certainly did not understand why not. After all I had, for the past two years, gone to many school dances and games. Why now was I too young to do so? It made no sense to me and yet no one could explain it. I loved my sister but I believe I became jealous and resentful of the fact that she was able to do the things we had been able to do before but for some reason I could not. Was I being punished for something? I didn’t know and again no one could explain it to me.
People would ask me where I was from and when I said Singapore (or Indonesia) they would look at me as though I was crazy. Or wouldn’t have any idea where that was. I would try and explain where it was and would many times be made fun of, which of course I did not understand either. That bothered me a great deal. Eventually I gave up and learned to hate the question of where I came from. It took me a 25 years to finally begin telling people again that I grew up in Singapore. That was how I would put it as for me that was the truth. Little did I know that was all part of being a TCK – a term I would not learn for another 40 years.