Cassandra Hsiao moved from Malaysia to the United States since she was 5-years-old. The 17-year-old recently made international headlines for being accepted into all 8 Ivy League school which is beyond incredible. I mean, getting accepted into one is already a miracle!
We’re all very curious how she got in. And well, here’s the essay that impressed all the universities, including Princeton, Harvard, Pennsylvania, Brown, Dartmouth, Cornell, and Columbia.
“In our house, English is not English. Not in the phonetic sense, like short a is for apple, but rather in the pronunciation – in our house, snake is snack. Words do not roll off our tongues correctly – yet I, who was pulled out of class to meet with language specialists, and my mother from Malaysia, who pronounces film as flim, understand each other perfectly.
In our house, there is no difference between cast and cash, which was why at a church retreat, people made fun of me for “cashing out demons.” I did not realize the glaring difference between the two Englishes until my teacher corrected my pronunciations of hammock, ladle, and siphon. Classmates laughed because I pronounce accept as except, success as sussess. I was in the Creative Writing conservatory, and yet words failed me when I needed them most.
Suddenly, understanding flower is flour wasn’t enough. I rejected the English that had never seemed broken before, a language that had raised me and taught me everything I knew. Everybody else’s parents spoke with accents smarting of Ph.D.s and university teaching positions. So why couldn’t mine?
My mother spread her sunbaked hands and said, “This is where I came from,” spinning a tale with the English she had taught herself.
When my mother moved from her village to a town in Malaysia, she had to learn a brand new language in middle school: English. In a time when humiliation was encouraged, my mother was defenseless against the cruel words spewing from the teacher, who criticized her paper in front of the class. When she began to cry, the class president stood up and said, “That’s enough.”
“Be like that class president,” my mother said with tears in her eyes. The class president took her under her wing and patiently mended my mother’s strands of language. “She stood up for the weak and used her words to fight back.”
We were both crying now. My mother asked me to teach her proper English so old white ladies at Target wouldn’t laugh at her pronunciation. It has not been easy. There is a measure of guilt when I sew her letters together. Long vowels, double consonants — I am still learning myself. Sometimes I let the brokenness slide to spare her pride but perhaps I have hurt her more to spare mine.
As my mother’s vocabulary began to grow, I mended my own English. Through performing poetry in front of 3000 at my school’s Season Finale event, interviewing people from all walks of life, and writing stories for the stage, I stand against ignorance and become a voice for the homeless, the refugees, the ignored.
With my words I fight against jeers pelted at an old Asian street performer on a New York subway. My mother’s eyes are reflected in underprivileged ESL children who have so many stories to tell but do not know how. I fill them with words as they take needle and thread to make a tapestry.
In our house, there is beauty in the way we speak to each other. In our house, language is not broken but rather bursting with emotion. We have built a house out of words. There are friendly snakes in the cupboard and snacks in the tank. It is a crooked house. It is a little messy. But this is where we have made our home.”
Taman Rimba Kiara Is Saved! Court Of Appeal Rules In Favour Of TTDI Community
After years of battling it out in court, the Court of Appeal has finally decided to keep Taman Awam Bukit...
“Please be patient” Finance Minister Says BPN 2.0 Payment Will Be Credited In One Week
If you’ve been checking your online banking apps for the past few weeks only to be disappointed that the highly...
Chinese New Year SOPs & Decision On MCO Extension To Be Announced Next Week
Standard operating procedures (SOP) for the upcoming Chinese New Year celebrations will be finalised some time next week, said Defence...
Nurse In Singapore Breaches Quarantine To Buy Bubble Tea & Visits Friend, To Be Jailed For 7 Weeks
A nurse who worked in the Singapore General Hospital came back from her vacation in Australia on 21 March 2020....
India’s High Court Says Molesting Without Skin-On-Skin Contact Is Not Sexual Assault
The High Court in India has ruled that groping a child through their clothes does not equate to sexual assault....
Social Stories23 hours ago
S’porean Woman Saves Man From Suicide But Receives Negative Remarks From Family & Friends
Social Stories7 hours ago
Accident Involving Myvi & GTR at Jalan Genting Klang Leaves Netizens Saying “Myvi 1 : GTR 0”
Social Stories23 hours ago
S’wak Girls Print Unflattering Photos Of Friend & Parade It On Lorry As Birthday Surprise
News9 hours ago
Deliveryman Waiting Alone In Car For Restaurant Orders Fined For Loitering