I was grabbing a lunchbox with my classmates, and one of them
asked me the following question: what kind of child were you?
Nothing came to my mind. Not even a single image of what represents
my childhood. The truth is I don’t remember anything. My life history
begins in 2002 when my country co-hosted the 2002 FIFA World Cup
with Japan. Last month, I had nothing else to read from my bookshelf
than my diaries between 1996 and 1998. I looked them up and found
a few interesting stories.
Dates: July 7, 1996
Title: Scary Monsters
My parents took me to a nearby buffet restaurant. There were tall
and fat and white people near our table. My parents insisted that I
say something in English to them. I did not want to get close to them.
They were scary. I do not understand why my parents tried to make me go
so close to dangerous people. I do not like English-speaking people.
Dates: July 9, 1998
Title: Evil English Teacher
My English teacher kicked me out from her classroom because I did not
do my English homework. I waited outside for two hours. My mom was
angry and she called my English teacher many times. My mom tells me
I will have a better English teacher tomorrow. I can live with Korean
and I do not understand why my mom is so obssessed with teaching me English.
English teachers are bad and English is just evil.
It appears I was a xenophobic child with no interest in learning English.
A series of questions then struck me. Had I ever imagined myself going abroad?
How ironic is it for me to work at the ICC? Much of my work dealt with
recommending English, “the evil language,”to Waseda students while explaining
to them the importance of interacting with “scary monsters.” Of course, we
do change as we grow old, and accepting our past is also an important part
of what defines us as adults. My past as a kid who fears international
exchange does not mean I have to stay stubborn and not communicate with foreigners.
I could not deny, however, thatI was overwhelmed by my new discovery – my life
history that reflects the opposite of me.
Maybe life really is a stage and our present roles define our identities and
shape our personalities. Maybe there is no such thing as nurturing.
I am not sure what kind of change awaits me in the future. It is just
surprising how change occurs without us knowing and how we often end up
living our lives without remembering our histories.
So, what kind of child were you? I hope you did your diary assignments when you were kids.
MW (Student Staff Leader)