Mandy Sin departed from Hong Kong, China, in 2002 and arrived in Bellevue, Washington, at the age of 8. She is living in Seattle, Washington, at the time of the interview.
Transcriber: Claire Gordon
Mandy Sin: (0:00) My first day of school in America was third grade and that was at Woodridge. They ended up placing me back in 3rd grade because 4th grade was colossal. Looking around there’s not, nobody that I know, no one I recognize, a lot of people were white [laughs] and there’s not a lot of white people in Hong Kong. And how my teacher took attendance, is that you would put your popsicle stick in either the hot lunch and the cold lunch and that’s how she’ll know if you’re here or not. And hot lunch means buying lunch and cold lunch means you bring your own lunch. And I didn’t really have a concept of cold lunch because you don’t serve cold food in my culture. And your parents don’t serve you cold foods because it’s a way of um, showing that you don’t respect your kids. It’s like a form of punishment and so you don’t really eat any cold foods. I think all day I didn’t really have a chance to have a space where I could let my guards down, or like calm down, or just feel less out of place. I can’t believe I almost forgot this, ok, first day [laughs] of school in America, walk in, just spent the whole morning bawling my eyes out. We get situated, everyone’s sitting at their desk and suddenly, everyone stands up, faces their face to the flag, put their hand over their heart and just start chanting. And I’m sitting there like “what the heck is going on?” And I didn’t know what to do, like no one was like, “stand,” and they were just chanting, and it was so, weird, even the teacher was doing it. That took me a really long time to figure out what I was saying too. I didn’t know what it meant until like, the next year. I was just saying the sounds but not quite the words.