“A message to my sons this school year:
I’ll never forget my very first day of school.
I was a fresh new student and had just moved from overseas. My English was very limited and poor. I was pretty much down to the basics.
On my first day, I hid in the folds of your great grandma Lola’s skirt crying and hoping no one would see me. I believed if they couldn’t, then they’d forget about me.
I was 8 years old and I was scared, but then a girl came over.
I didn’t know at the time but she said, ‘You’ll be alright,’ and reached out her hand. She became my very first friend.
My school years were definitely my biggest challenge in life.
It wasn’t easy. I had to learn to understand and speak English without falling too far behind.
On top of that, I also endured relentless schoolyard bullying. I say ‘schoolyard’ because that’s where it stayed. It didn’t follow me home as it does now in your generation with the digital world and social media.
As hard as my early school years were, they were also the most fun, memorable, and some of the happiest times of my life. I had an extraordinary circle of friends; we had sleepovers and called each other on rotary dial phones to chat.
Where am I going with this? Let’s go back to ‘you’ll be alright.’ When I think about it, that moment cemented everything for me.
When the bullying got too much, I knew I’d be alright. When the words did hurt, I knew I’d be alright. When I was down, my friends were there and I knew I’d be alright. And I know you will be too.
Always remember that you have each other, your family, and friends to lift you up when others try to knock you down.
Most importantly, if you ever come across anyone being mistreated, lonely, or afraid, please be a friend. Even if they don’t understand, just reach out your hand and tell them, ‘You’ll be alright.’
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