My personal narrative is about my transition to Canada from China in fifth grade. Specifically how I became friends with Jack.
In my personal narrative, I based it on the story of the first day of school in Toronto, Canada. The story begins a brief introduction about my life in China to create a contrast to the life in Canada. I was facing both internal and external conflicts dealing with new environment and making new friends. To make the readers empathize with my emotional turmoil, I used literary techniques like metaphor “I slowly walked over to where other kids lined up like warriors ready for battle.” hyperbole “He had on a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey and he seemed like a giant to me, I thought he was in high school.” imagery “When I scanned the courtyard, I found the place where I could fit in: a game of foursquare.” and personification “When the ball touched the ground, it curved to the right.”
In the story I was still a little boy who was not good at English, I tried to show that through making my dialogue with simple choice of dictions ““No, no, I’m good.” I said while stuttering.” and incorporating some Chinese “”Xie xie, mom.”” I characterized myself differently from others to show my uniqueness through my outfit “That day I was wearing a blue shirt that said ‘active’ on it in Chinese, it was my favorite shirt that I had.” and that I was shorter than others.
Furthermore, I used literary techniques such as alliteration “When I heard that my body shivered a bit but also felt a strange satisfaction of accomplishment.” Here it creates emphasis on my shyness as a kid but also proud for what I have achieved. In addition, I emulated Holden’s style of speaking from The Catcher in the Rye “…, although I did not feel I was ready for school but I told myself to be brave and all.” “… she told me that my dad is going to go to Canada to work or something like that.”
Overall, my memoir is to reflect on my friendship with Jack and how I grew from that experience.
“Have fun honey.” My mom said in a quiet voice with a sense of discomfort.
“Xie xie, mom.” as I said while turning around.
It was the first day of school and was I nervous.
When I got to the courtyard, there were already a lot of students hanging out there. I walked around with my hands on my backpack straps looking around the courtyard like a detective — a desperate attempt to find a clue where could I fit in.
It was the summer of 2012 in Toronto Canada. A place that I did not know it existed until a month ago. I was overwhelmed by the fresh air and the blue sky that I rarely saw in China. Everywhere people spoke a foreign language that I was not familiar with. With my mom’s eager anticipation for me to improve my English, I was enrolled into a summer camp at Upper Canada College. After a week of camp my English skills remained the same, but I mastered the game of four square. For an 11-year-old boy, starting a new life was an exciting adventure like a cocoon that just turned into a butterfly exploring the brand new world.
Back home in China, I use to go to a school where we had 40 people in a class, and we spoke only Chinese. My days were filled with classes and sports. I would typically wake up at 6:30, for half an hour ride to school on good days, traffic can be horrific some days. Once at school I would run up the staircases trying to avoid getting caught being tardy. During first block I would glance at the clock above the blackboard every 5 minutes. Eagerly anticipating for a 10-minute game of soccer during recess. My friends and I would run around like wild puppies being let go from the leash. For me, school was a friendly place where I could be with friends.
Then one day when I came home from school just like any other day, then my mom approached me. She had this friendly smile on her face and then she told me that my dad is going to go to Canada to work or something like that. At that time, I didn’t know what it was all about, all I knew was that we were going to move to Canada at the end of the school year. All these fun days with my friends are just gone like this? It was really devastating for me to hear that news. Time went by fast and it was the last day of school. All of my friends and I were sad, but we did not know how to express our emotions. As usual, after school we went to the store the last time for a quick snack, then back to the field and played our last soccer game and I thought that was probably going to be the last time I will see them.
Life in Toronto was completely different. I was enrolled at Rosedale public school for me to attend and I participated in the orientation for new students. My first impression was that the school was a lot smaller than my school in China. I didn’t think of it as something negative, I just thought that the school had a different style and I just needed some time to adapt to it. I spent the last two weeks before school trying my best to improve my English skills. I was reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, although it was just a simple story, for me it was an achievement. Two weeks went by fast, I knew I was not ready for school but I told myself to be brave and all.
When I scanned the courtyard, I found the place where I could fit in: a game of foursquare. Then I slowly walked over to where other kids lined up like warriors ready for battle. I was filled with confidence. That day I was wearing a blue shirt that said ‘active’ on it in Chinese, it was my favorite shirt that I had. The line was not too long so soon it was my turn to play. When the ball was tossed to my quarter, I moved my right leg back, gripped my hands tightly together and then smashed the ball. The force was so strong I was even amazed by it. I could tell everyone there were stunned from their facial expressions. They were probably wondering who this skinny new kid in town was. I then casually walked to the next square feeling more charged. I took my ready stance and faced the next shot. The ball was first served to this boy next to me. He had on a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey and he seemed like a giant to me, I thought he was in high school. As he hit the ball to my sqaure, he twisted his wrist. It seemed just like a regular shot so I gripped my hands together and hit towards the ball. The second I started moving my hands I knew I messed it up. When the ball touched the ground, it curved to the right. Then I looked to my side and saw the ball rolling down the courtyard in between others. That was when I realized that I was out of the game and went back to the line. Then I heard a voice from behind me,
“Hey you new kid, go pick up the ball.” His voice was aggressive with a feeling of dominance.
Without a word, I went to pick up the ball and I handed it to him trying to avoid eye contact. The game continued. I was confused at how he manipulated the ball to spin. So I kept close attention to him and saw a movement in his wrist before every shot. When I stood in my square again, I swung at the ball and missed again. My chance to revenge once again failed. And he had on a victorious simile. Two more humiliating defeats from my side then I finally figured out how to receive his shot. Failure is the mother of success, so I thought it was now my chance to bounce back. Once again he had this weird wrist movement while having a smirk on his face. I stayed calm and made a quick calculation. Since he moved his wrist to the right, so I knew the ball was going to go to the left. I aimed my hands like I was holding a sniper and launched my hands toward the ball. The ball flew like a bullet into the tall guy’s square and he was not ready for that. Just like that he was out of the game.
“You got lucky there, get ready when I come back.” He said with a rough voice.
When I heard that my body shivered a bit but also felt a strange satisfaction of accomplishment. The next couple of rounds were pretty easy with me eventually getting to the king square.
“Jack, show him who’s better.” said a guy that was standing in the line, he was also taller than me and had a beanie on.
I was the king so I served the ball first to this guy on my right. He then hit the ball lightly to Jack’s square. I was baffled by what was happening. Why did he hit it so carefully to Jack’s square? Jack then of course just smashed the ball straight on to my square filled with vengeance. I don’t know why but my natural instinct just made me dive for the ball. Unfortunately, I landed sideways on the concrete ground. My tailbone was hurting like hell. Then what happened next surprised me, Jack walked up to me and held his hand out.
“Hey, you good?”
“Ya, ya I think I’m good.”
“Hey, let me take you to the nurse.”
I did not know how to respond appropriately, everything was so overwhelming, it made me feel like a celebrity that just stepped out of his car and was being bombarded by flashlights. I just followed Jack and went to the nurse.
“Yo, my name is Jack,” Jack said holding his hand out.
“Hi, my name is David,” I said while shaking his hand.
“Hey, your dive there was pretty impressive, I’m sorry if I made you feel unwelcomed earlier.”
“No, no, I’m good.” I said while stuttering.
At first we were trying to talk about where we were from and I was trying to tell him about my life in China. But soon I think he found out that I was not very good at English so we just waited for the nurse to come and check on me. The nurse was very kind, she made me bend my knees a couple of times and twisted my waist. She said that there was nothing wrong, I just scraped some skin. When we were leaving, she gave both of us each a lollipop. Back in China, our school didn’t allow us to eat candy on campus, but here they give out candy for free! I was relived and it is undoubtedly friendly enough for me to feel at ease. For the whole year Jack and I were best friends.
Whenever I think back to that time of how I got to be friends with Jack, I tell myself to be confident and be myself. I became friends with Jack because of his skills, and he gave me respect for my effort. I still remember when I was on the ground and he gave me a hand. Initially, I did feel uncomfortable interacting with Jack since I was just a new kid, and Jack was much bigger and been at the school for a long time already. As time passed, we got to learn each other better. I learned that he was also in fifth grade, it’s just that he was taller than everyone. He would always help me if I was lost or I didn’t understand something. During recess every day we would play foursquare, although we would be competitive, but when the game finishes, we will go back being best friends.