Language and identity are firmly back in the headlines lately, after video footage of an aggressive man berating Spanish speakers in a New York deli became a major talking point.
“They should be speaking English, because this is America!” he ranted, despite there being no law or constitutional support for this claim, as the U.S. has no official language. As a counter to all the negativity around the story, and the history of people trying to force others to speak English just because, read this viral Twitter thread about a young Korean immigrant who was inspired and motivated to learn English by the kind actions of his teacher.
T.K, the voice behind the Ask A Korean blog, shared the beautiful story of his formative experiences in the U.S. as a non-English speaking 10th grader who was struggling to come to terms with not being able to express himself. Sure, he had knowledge, but he felt helpless and frustrated at school because that knowledge was suddenly quite useless. But then along came his biology teacher Ms. Gallagher, who recognized his struggles and his potential, and decided to go the extra mile to ensure that T.K felt valued and included.
The moment has stayed with T.K ever since, he was motivated to learn English to a high level and is now a successful attorney and renowned blogger. But it all began with a little encouragement and welcoming spirit. He reminds us that the USA as it is today was built on immigration, and newcomers require kindness and patience to adjust to their new surroundings. There are many ways of becoming an American, and bullying people over things like the languages they speak, or aren’t yet able to speak, certainly doesn’t help!
Scroll down to check out T.K’s story for yourself, and let us know what you think in the comments!
A story about the experiences of a young Korean immigrant has gone viral for all the right reasons
Image credits: Daniel Lee (Not an actual photo)