CIRCUMSTANCES DICTATE OUR LEARNING, by Lwiza Mulenga

Uncategorized Aug 09, 2017

How I Learned to Read and Write Differently.

On November 28th, 2006, I moved to England at the age of 12 with my Mother and Brother. My mum had been offered a job as a nurse in England, so my brother and I had to move with her. This was going to be my first Christmas in England and I most definitely expected Snow as I had seen in films I watch back home in Zambia. Can you imagine my shock when I woke up on Christmas morning and there was no snow, but a whole lot of rain? Shocking! I was somewhat disappointed. Nonetheless my first Christmas in England was amazing. The streets decorated in beautiful lights.

‘Christmas trees everywhere and a whole lot of chocolate to munch on’.

We spent our first Christmas with Aunty B and her family, who made the experience unforgettable. Christmas was short lived and I was to start School in January.

I was excited to start school, ready to make some friends and just be a regular kid. However, nothing could have prepared me for my first day in a new school in a new country. As I entered my form room and was introduced by our form tutor my nerves grew every second. A room full of girls who all knew each other from the previous year. In the UK, secondary education starts in year seven, and grades change every September, whereas, in Zambia secondary school starts in year eight and grades change every January. This meant I had missed out on 15 months of British secondary school education.

I sat with three girls, still nervous. I reintroduced myself to them, to break the ice and start a conversation. They all looked at each other as if I had spoken some foreign language, then one of them spoke, and I was even more confused.

‘I really believed we were both speaking English but we were not understanding each other.’ There was such a big difference in our accents. This continued in class, I found myself not understanding what was being taught.

I had already missed a year and three months of secondary education and then I was struggling to understand what people were saying. Imagine how lost you would feel if you found yourself in such a situation? Your confidence is killed. Moving from the top of my class in Zambia to now not even comprehending what I was being taught, was crushing for a 12-year-old.

One day my Aunty B came to pick me up from school. She noticed I wasn’t the cheery girl she was used to seeing. She asked what the problem was. It was such a relief to explain to her what I was experiencing, opening to her basically changed my life, we talked for while which helped me feel better about myself. She told me she understood that me moving to a different country could be difficult. She advised me to start reading anything, I liked. This would improve my English and expose a me to a whole new vocabulary of words. Little did she know this would encourage me to write better.

For all you, millennials, you know the Twilight frenzy that encompassed our lives since 2005. Team Edward or Team Jacob? I was introduced to the Twilight book series in 2009. It’s safe to say I was a super fan, because eventually I started writing. I was so obsessed with Twilight that when I finished reading the books I joined a fan fiction website Twilight Fan Fiction. I read most of the stories.

When I was not satisfied with what others had written I started writing my own stories.

And that my dear friends, is how I started writing. So, I have three lessons to share with you:

1.       "If you don’t like the story, write your own" Chinua Achebe. This one of my favourite quotes and when I was 15 years old that is exactly what I did. If you don’t like the story, you can write your own story, do not settle for someone else story if you are not satisfied with where the writer left off.

2.       Strength comes from Struggle. You learn from your biggest struggles. If you are in any new situation and you are struggling, find someone to talk to. A lot of adults are willing to listen, you are not alone. Communicating with others who can’t speak a language will help them build their confidence and increase your language skills too, so it’s a win, win situation.

3.       Most change is hard, whether good or bad. However, it is what you do with the change that has happened to you. That is what will define you as a person. Writing is definitely a great way of coping with situations so write away!

Here is a link to my first ever story. Follow the link to read it https://goo.gl/FRWMuj

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