A lasting Impression
(Concours littraire lite: in English)
Yisen Wang һɭ 13 2012 Elite Camp E90

The day I entered Canada, I was alone. Being from the United States, I knew that I had to learn French in order to succeed in school. College Elite seemed to be the answer to my problem. When I arrived, however, I was even more out of place than I had been previously. I could not read Chinese, and the first class I had started off with a Chinese textbook. Occasionally, during break, a student or a teacher would try to speak to me in French, and although I tried to speak with them in the same language, I would eventually reach the point where I could not understand anything they said. One day however, I spotted a volunteer and tried to strike a conversation by asking him in French if he spoke English. Surprisingly, he did, and we soon became friends. Speaking to him turned out to be a very memorable experience. Not only could he communicate with me, he proved to be very successful in life, which made him a source of my drive to succeed. Most importantly however, he showed me that I could thrive in the new environment.

One of the main reasons why I found my talks with him so memorable was because his English was flawless. Surrounded first by people who spoke French regularly in public, and later by people who spoke Chinese, I had been lost. Of course, I had met others who could speak English, but at the time, most of the people I knew that could speak English were teachers. As teachers they werent able to connect with me in the way I needed. Also, when I first entered College Elite, I was in the first level of the Welcome Class, and because of that, most of my classmates were very young. The significant age gap between me and my classmates caused my feelings of isolation to grow. Even when I made friends, most of them were too young to understand me. Speaking with the volunteer though, felt like a breath of fresh air. Many of the people I had met in College Elite had come directly from China, so when I tried to talk with them, I felt like an intruder, an alien. He, however had lived in Canada for a long time, and coupled with the fact that we did not communicate in Chinese, I felt more at ease than I had felt before. With him, I could talk freely and much more than I ever had in Elite. We had a lot in common, and we were, as I later found out, the same age, and that made our understanding of each other much more profound. Here was a person who could communicate with me C not only because he could speak English, but because he understood me.

As I got to know him more and more however, I grew jealous of him. He turned out to be a very accomplished individual. The most obvious product of his achievement was his acceptance into College Jean-de-Brebeuf, arguably the most prestigious school that Quebec has to offer. Along with his already excellent level of English, he also held a mastery of French that I believed I could only dream of matching one day. The more I learned of his achievements the more envious I grew. I realized however that he was a role model. I realized that I had always wanted to be able to do what he did. Ever since I found out that I would have to go to a French school I worked hard to achieve my largest goal C to be accepted by College Jean-de-Brebeuf. I had always wanted to have mastery over French, to be able to speak fluently and find my own way around. As I learned more of his achievements, my drive to succeed became more powerful than it was before. I began to focus more in class and to put more time and effort into my studies. I knew that I relied too much on my English speaking skills to get around and that I needed to start practicing my French outside and in the public. Many times, he would start speaking in French to one of his friends, so I started trying to understand what they were saying. The more I listened the more I learned. I began to pick up some new French words and phrases, and I felt more confident in my ability to speak in French. I believe that is one of the reasons why I found my talks with him so memorable C through his achievements, he gave me the drive to put more effort into my studies.

I believe that the most important reason I remember my talks with him so clearly is because he helped me transition into a seemingly strange, new environment. Transitioning from an English speaking world to a French speaking one had been like a splash of cold water. I felt that I was drowning in this new world. With no friends and a completely different language I knew it would be very hard for me to break these new barriers set upon me. Nevertheless, once I became aware of this fact, I started to work harder than ever, especially at home. I knew that staying out in the basic level would not accelerate my learning. I knew that I needed to climb up the ladder and reach the top before long. I would be starting high school next year, so the pressure would be higher than it was before. I even requested my teacher a copy of the lessons she would be teaching this summer so I could skip to the next level. However, I still feared that my work would not be enough. Through my talks with him however, I understood that my fears were unfounded and that I would not die the minute I entered high school. Many others were in worse positions so I knew that I actually had an advantage over others. Yet, I knew the path ahead of me would not be an easy one. The more I talked with him the more I realized that even the people who had lived here had to work very hard to succeed and that someone like me would have to work twice as hard to achieve the same results. However, I was no longer afraid of the challenges that lay ahead. The volunteer himself had moved from China many years ago and he had faced worse challenges than what I now had to overcome. He had survived the transition, and had succeeded in what to him must have been an equally strange world.

The volunteer I found when I first came to College Elite has already left for vacation. Though he may not be here now, he has already left a lasting impression in me. I had been dropped into an ocean of uncertainty and at first I could not find any way to reach land. My conversations with the volunteer helped me find a grip necessary for survival in this strange, new world and his achievements gave me hope that I could also cross this vast ocean of unknowns. He showed me the path I needed to take in order to reach the stable land I so desperately needed, and helped me in my endeavor to succeed by giving me all the necessary supplies.