Evan Shang

The Dark Tunnel

Light on the end of railway tunnel.

The classic iPhone alarm sound awoke me from my deep slumber and ended my peaceful dream. I stopped the alarm and saw the numbers that were written on the screen, “6:00am.” Just then I noticed that there were no rays of blinding light shooting from the window on this early hot day in June. I jump up and took a peek out the window to find that the sky is grey and the sun was hiding above a thick layer of smog. I recognized this is China and today was my first day at school and what I thought then; it was The beginning of torment. One of my greatest fears was going back to China for school. I began to tell myself, I’m already here, nothing could get any worse so don’t worry. Things turned out to be the unexpected…

I walked down the dark pink tiled sidewalk along side my mom to school, I began praying that school here won’t be as bad as everyone back in Canada says it is. I hoped it wasn’t 12 hours long each day, I hoped that the teachers were nice, I hoped that I could adapt, and I hoped that I can make friends here. Each step made me more and more nervous. I wanted to follow my faint footprints on the ground back home and crawl back into bed. Before I knew it I was standing before my homeroom teacher’s office. We knocked on the door and the teacher opened the door to greet us. The first thing she said was “Hey, you must be the new kid.” She then welcomed us into her office and offered us tea. My mom was explaining that I lived in Canada for 9 years and my Chinese was very crappy, while I examined the office. The teacher laughed, “It can’t be THAT bad. Here’s a passage, try and read it” Instead of reading it I just stared at it and stayed silence. I looked at the teacher and I told her I couldn’t do it, and I saw a troubled face. Then she gave me a smile and said “You’ll have time to improve, but first let me take you to your new class.”

Excited and scared, I slipped through the back door of the classroom. I was astonished. Everyone was wearing uniforms, emotionless reading in perfect sync out loud and I thought they were actually robots. Only the teacher noticed I entered, and she said “Hi there, new student.” Suddenly it got real quite and everyone stopped reading and focused their eyes on me as I sat in an empty desk. Moments later they returned to their tasks. The teacher expected me to read along, so she walks to me and hands me a textbook with the paged already flipped. Since I couldn’t read Chinese I just flipped through the pages looking at the limited black and white pictures. I can remember clearly that the girl who adjacent to me asked me “Why don’t you read with everybody else?” Then I pretended to read.

I stood there, with my eyes wide open, completely lost in the teacher’s words, trying to comprehend what she is saying. Seeing that I was having difficulties with the problem, the teacher slowly trekked across the classroom towards me. I blanked out, and started to visualize the teacher shrieking at me for not understanding. I see the teacher stop at my desk, then kindly asking if I needed any assistance. I was so shocked, speechless and confused, so I just let out a quiet “No.” The teacher just smiled and responded “If you having problems in class, just ask me.” Still mind blown from the fact that the teachers here were unlike what I had visualized in my mind, I decided to get to work. The only characters I understood from the question were the numbers. I debated on whether to ask my desk-mate help me, but when I couldn’t go on, I settled on asking him. My mate explained it in such simple terms even I was able to understand. Soon people from right and left began reading, and explaining questions to me. Then I realized something startling. I realized that they were actually human beings although sounding like robots, I realized they were much friendly then I assumed, and I realized that they going to become amazing friends.

At the end of the day (6 P.M.), we all gathered at the front gates. As I leave they all shout out “GOODBYE, EVAN!” and I just smiled and waved. While walking home, I was thinking. I was thinking how the first day of school was actually one of my best first days and how I felt that could actually survive here and how being here was actually an opportunity and how I would go back the next day with a simile on my face.

When I look back 2 years later, I feel that I’ve made an excellent choice not returning to Canada when I had the chance. It happened to be the most unforgettable experience that’s happened to me. Now I have no fear entering the dark tunnel full of obstacles, because I know that at the very end of that tunnel there is light and there are rewards waiting to be reaped, and there will always be friends who will guide you.