BY: Lolita Obolenskaya
Getting off the plane when I was 6 and not knowing what America had in store for me was one of the most terrifying moments of my life. I came from a city in Turkmenistan called Ashgabat. Life there was wonderful. I had my grandma and aunt taking care of me in an apartment filled with all the necessities we needed to survive. My mom and step-dad were already in America and my aunt decided it was best if her and I went to live with them. I remember leaving my grandma behind as I walked through security at the airport. It was saddening to leave someone who took care of me my entire life, but I was going to see my mom again! Taking off on the plane, I only saw desert and at that time I did not know anything other than that. I was greeted by my mom and extended family, but I did not know who most of them were. I remember holding onto my aunt’s hand because I feared meeting them. Little did I know that was going to be the least of my worries.
I did not know how ridiculed I was going to be when I went to Atwater school in Shorewood, WI. I remember my mom asking me how my day went and me just crying so much. Things did not get better as days went by. I grew into an angry 6-year-old who did not understand why I got bullied and made fun of. I started to hit my family and cry buckets of tears every single day until my mom went into the school and asked what was going on with me. They denied any bullying going on but as I grew angrier my mom knew that they were not telling the truth. One day during our lunch break, I was sitting alone eating my Russian lunch when one boy came up to me and spilled milk all over my shirt. I knew if I started crying, he would make fun of me even more. I shrugged it off while he was saying things in English that I could not understand. It was only my first day of taking English Language Learner class. I went outside to play but no one would play with me, so I ran up to some girls to play but they ran off when I got there. I was so distraught that no one wanted to even play with me that I went up on the slide to the top. I was contemplating going down, but I was scared to. I was looking over everyone on top of the slide and wondering if life for me would ever be better. I felt some air rushing past me, it was the guy that spilled milk all over me. He and a couple of his guy friends started pushing me off the slide, but I grasped onto the bar and would not let go. I started to tear up because I knew how much better life was back in Turkmenistan.
I was happy back there, but I could not say the same for here. One guy ungripped my hand and I fell face first down the slide. When I got down, my hand and tummy hurt, and people were laughing at me. I cried so hard that one of the recess monitors had to take me inside to call my mom. My mom came to pick me up and I hugged her so hard that all my pain went away. The next day, my first-grade teacher lined everyone in a line for me to tell her who out of all the 23 people bullied me. I pointed out 22 out of the 23 and after that day, no one ever bullied me again. I learned English and now I am in college which I never thought was possible. All thanks to my teachers and family who got me through those difficult years of elementary school to be where I am today. No matter how different someone is from you, always treat them with kindness and respect because you never know what anyone is dealing with.