We Are America

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Photo ofPierson Wetherington
Our life in North Carolina was ok from what I remember. We lived in a small condo, but it was nice and cozy with a really nice neighbor. After a year of living there, my mom and dad started talking about moving to someplace else because it was rea_lly_ cold where we lived. Also, there wasn’t anything my parents liked to do in North Carolina, so they also wanted to find better jobs. I don’t remember much about living there, but I do remember how cold it was. My sister and I used to sit at the bus stop for 2 hours in the freezing cold, waiting for the bus. There would often be a bus delay. So after a little planning, in a few weeks, we were on a plane to Hawai’i. My sister and I had to leave our school which was difficult because I made really good friends there. I was scared and nervous; I could tell my sister was too. The flight was long with many sleepless nights. My sister and I used to play games on the small pad on the front of the plane seats. Other than that, we had ourselves to entertain each other.
When we finally landed on the island of Kauai, things were different. When we got off the plane, there was a different atmosphere. There were trees I have never seen before. I could smell the saltwater in the air. It felt nice, but I still was uncomfortable. I still had no idea where we were, what city we were in, and what we were going to do. The uncertainty was awful!
The people felt intimidating there, and it often scared me when people would talk to us in pidgin, the local Hawaiian dialect. I hadn't ever heard or seen this language before I got there, and it was hard to understand. So just like that, we made our trip to Kauai. It all seemed so sudden. Even though we landed, the journey was not over. We still didn’t have a place to stay. We didn’t even know where to go.
Finally, after some quick thinking, we got a taxi to Kapaa, and we got another small condo. My dad was looking for jobs here while my mom took care of us at the condo. We did a lot of driving around the island to see all the different sites.  Hawaii was a lot hotter, but it was nice to be warmer than North Carolina. My mom found our schools and enrolled us in Kapaa Elementary and Kaua'i Middle schools. The kids at Kapaa Elementary were nice to me since I was new to the island and that made the adjustment much easier. My sister liked her school as well.
So, we found a place to call home. I learned not to be scared of big changes and try to see the best in challenges. I have a great, solid group of friends now. I don't know how different I'd be if we hadn't left North Carolina. I've always been told that challenges are meant to be tackled head-on, or else the world would have no meaning. So let’s just say I took that message to heart when little 5-year-old me (and my family) went on a one-way trip across the Pacific Ocean. I am glad that I know more about the culture, so it isn’t as intimidating as when we first landed here. There might be some trouble pronouncing some of the words and places, and I sometimes still struggle with understanding pidgin.  It was a worthwhile trip; I wouldn’t be me without it.

© Pierson Wetherington. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.