Alaskan Boy This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   I am looking at myself in the mirror as Mommy puts my hair up into a ponytail with my favorite pink barrette. Aunt Shirley sent it two months ago for my ninth birthday. I am so excited that Mommy finally let me wear my new blue, flowery dress. I have been begging her to allow me to wear it for a million years. She told me that I already have lots of dresses. Mommy says that I have to go to school today and meet some new friends. I do not know why I cannot stay home and remain friends with my pals back in Taiwan. They were very nice and I was sad to leave them.

Mommy gives my hand a squeeze as we walk across the parking lot. I do not want to meet new kids who look and talk different. I am so scared that I ask Mommy if we can just go home. She smiles at me and calls me a silly girl and leads me into the school. There are signs I cannot read. I hear two girls giggling in a classroom. I wonder how I am ever going to be able to talk to them. We enter a room with a tall brown counter and a desk as big as Mommy's. I notice a boy with brown hair sitting across from me. He is rubbing his eyes and wiping away tears. I wonder why he is so sad; did his mommy make him come to school? Then I realized something very strange. I thought all children here have blond hair like the pictures in my books. Why doesn't he have blond hair? Maybe he is from another country, like me. I wonder if he is from Alaska where my plane stopped on the way from Taiwan. Since Americans have blond hair and blue eyes, I decide that he is indeed from Alaska.

My thoughts are interrupted when I notice a tall woman approaching me. I cannot understand why she cut hair so short, like a boy. Doesn't she know girls are supposed to have long hair? She says hi. I remember Mommy explaining that "hi" is a word that people use to greet each other. I say "hi" back quietly. I can smell her perfume as she talks with my mother. I thought Mommy was the only person who wore that smelly stuff.

The lady introduces herself but I instantly forget her name because it is very long. Mommy whispers that she is the principal as we followed her to my classroom. It is the most beautiful classroom I have ever seen. Everywhere you turn, there are cute posters or drawings by students. It also has a reading corner with a carpeted floor. Best of all, there are cubbies lining the wall filled with toys. I wonder if I am imagining this. The classroom is too perfect; it even has a water fountain!

My classroom in Taiwan was so boring. Every room was white and not decorated. School was for learning and not for fun. Also, there was only one water fountain per floor, so you had to run during recess to beat the long line. The teacher smiles at me and tells me that her name is Ms. Fis - something. She is wearing a navy suit with a pearl necklace that I really like. I wonder if she also won her necklace at the arcade in town. She brings me in front of the class and says something to them. My stockings start to itch and I want to scratch, but there are dozens of eyes staring at me. I study each students and realize that American children not only have blond hair, but they have red hair, brown hair and black hair. So I guess the boy in the office is not from Alaska after all.

The teacher seats me next to a girl with blond hair. Then, she talks to me very slowly. I pick up some words like "she," "help," and "friend." I figure she is trying to tell me that the girl is going to be my friend and my helper. I am happy that the English classes I took in Taiwan are finally coming into use. I nod to show I understand and smile at my new friend. She introduces herself as Marissa, which I keep on repeating in my head.

After awhile, Ms. Fis - something leads us outside. Marissa explains it is recess. The playground is so big that it seems like a park. There is a swing made out of a tire. We spin around in circles. I am so dizzy afterwards that I bump into the Alaskan boy. He decides to join us and we climb up the slide together. It is so tall that I feel as if I am in the sky among the clouds. I scream as we zoom down. Next, I build a sand castle in the sandbox with a group of classmates.

I do want to leave when Mommy comes at the end of the day. Everyone is so nice and I had a lot of fun. I am happy that I made friends, especially with Marissa, whose name I did not forget the whole day. As we leave, Mommy asks me if I learned anything today. I nod and proudly tell her that Americans have brown hair, black hair and red hair, not only blond hair. c


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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