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Posts Tagged ‘Assimilation’

Her family was removed from her
Her country was removed from her
Because she didn’t matter.

She was exported to a foreign land
She was sold to a new family she didn’t look like at all
Because she didn’t matter.

Her birth date was removed from her
Her name was removed from her
Her manners were removed from her
Her words were removed from her
Her ways of thinking were removed from her
Because she didn’t matter.

She was given a new birth date that has nothing to do with her birth
She was given a new name that didn’t match her face
She was taught new manners as being the right manners
She was forcefully penetrated with new words to become her new mother tongue and new ways of thinking
Because she didn’t matter.

She was killed when I was created
She is not because I am
I am not me I’m her.
Don’t tell me I matter when she didn’t

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Her given name is Myung-Sook. Her surname is Kim.

This body I call mine belongs to her.
I grew stronger while she became weaker.
I began to talk when she began to lose her talk.
I was given a name when she lost her name.
I was born when she was buried.

I am because she is.
I live with her memories in her body.
I remember her past life in Korea when I didn’t exist yet.
She was proud of being a Korean.
She thought she was pretty with her beautiful big eyes.
She loved her name and was proud of it.

She’s not because I am.
Her life began to end when I learned to say and write my name.
My name is Kim Goudreau. I’m a Quebecoise de souche (“old stock Quebecker”).
I’m ashamed of Korea and being a Korean.
I wish I was entirely White.
I hate my ugly slanted eyes and my flat nose that make me a foreigner here.
I loathe my middle name, Myung-Sook. It sounds too Chinese and it’s irritating to my ears, just like fingernails being scratched on a blackboard.

Myung-Sook and I are totally different but we were one at the beginning of my life/at the end of her life.
This hand I call my hand wrote her name everywhere while she was dying.

She’s buried deep within me.
She’s my departed true self.
I am not me, I am her.

Every cell of my body yearns for her.
I’m homesick with grief when she yearns for her home country.
I’m wistful when she yearns for her lost language.
I’m nostalgic when she yearns her lost name.
I want to die when she yearns for her departed true self.
I want to die so that I can be reborn as her, my true self.

*hiraeth: a homesickness tinged with grief or sadness over the lost or departed; a mix of longing, yearning, nostalgia, wistfulness, or an earnest desire for the past.

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I’m Quebecoise. She’s Korean.
I’m a Scorpio. She’s an Aries.
I was conceived when she was made a paper orphan.
I was bought, she was sold.
I was being born while she was dying.
I grew stronger while she became weaker.
I began to talk when she began to lose her talk.
I was given a name, she lost her name.
I was born when she was buried.

I’m not me. I’m her.
I live in her body with her memories and her ghost.
I lost my true self when I lost her.

I’m Quebecoise.
You snatched away everything but my memories.
You penetrated me forcefully with your mother tongue, your thought and your culture
while emptying me of my mother tongue, my thought and my culture.
I speak like you.
I do things like you.
I think like you.
I have a French Canadian name.
But you reject me because I’m Korean.

She’s Quebecoise. I’m Korean.
She’s a Scorpio. I’m an Aries.
She was created when I became a paper orphan.
She was exported from her country, I was imported to this country
She was being born while I was agonizing.
She grew stronger while I became weaker.
She began to talk when I began to lose my talk.
She was given a name, I lost my name.
She was born when I was buried.

She lost her true self when I lost my self.
She is because I am.
She’s not her. She’s me.

I’m Korean
I lost our talk.
I lost our culture.
I lost my self.
I lost my identity.
I lost everything but my memories of our life together,
because you rejected me, sold me, kicked me out from our land, exported me to a foreign land when I was a little girl.

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The first book I read was when I was at St. Paul’s orphanage. Until then I had been able to read only newspapers and school books.

I had found it on the shelf of a cabinet. It belonged to Mrs. Choi, our housemother.  It  didn’t  cross my mind to borrow it, so I read it between mealtimes standing in front of the cabinet and I finished it in three days.  I’m sure that our housemother would have found  more books to read for me, if I had told her. But it didn’t cross my mind that I could read more books. I hadn’t realized yet that I loved reading.

It was a novel about a young girl who lived  in the moutains in a foreign country, drinking goat milk and eating cheese.

I recognized the story  in the anime series Heidi  which was aired in the 1980s in Quebec a few years after my adoption.

The only word I remember of the novel is the word 치즈 which  means cheese and is  the same as in English.

*****************

The second book I read was a parting gift from Mrs. Choi when I left the orphanage.

The second book I read in my former first language

The second book I read in my former first language

I read it shortly after my arrival to the USA.

I only had this  book to read, so I read it a few times.

My adoptive parents had many books – I had never seen so many in a house before – but they were all in English or in French which were foreign languages to me.

I don’t remember what the book was about. I remember the words  꽃 and 사람  in the title respectively mean “flower” and “person” . Google translator gives “Those who wear flowers” for the title.

*****************

I got another book  a few weeks after my arrival.

My adoptive parents had called a Korean American woman and her daughter to talk to me because they had noticed that I was sad after trying to leave their house.  Instead of asking me why I was sad, the woman  lectured me about the love of my American parents for me. I was sad because I wanted to go back home (Korea). They didn’t even give me a chance to talk, but a few days later they sent me Korean food, a homework book and a story book.

I saw them again only once,  but I wasn’t able to speak with them.

 The homework book was two levels above me. I started reading the story book the moment I got it.

The third book I read in my former first language

The last book I read in my former first language.

Reading was a comfort  while living in en environment where nobody spoke my language.

Six months after my arrrival, my adoptive parents moved to their homeland, Quebec, so that I could speak their first  language. Just when I had learned to say a few words in English, I was moved from an environment of foreign language to another environment of another foreign language.

I stopped reading the book I got from Mrs. Choi as it  became too difficult. But I read the one I got from the Korean Americans again and again  and again for almost two years.

Once, on my second year in Canada, I brought it to school. I hadn’t read it since a while  but I wanted to show my classmates that I could read in another language than French and that I wouldn’t have been an illiterate if I had stayed in Korea.  I had thought that they were my friends because they had stopped laughing of my  eyes. I was wrong. I heard them all laughing and saying things such as, “Chinese” – “Ching-chung-chung” – “She reads in Chinese”. I never showed anyone this book again.

The book contains many stories from different countries. I only remember the story about how the sea water became salty which was my favorite story.

It is the last book I read in my first lanaugage – I should say  my former  first  language.

My first language became a foreign language and a foreign language became my first language.

I remember the story that I had read may times in Korean, but I remember it as if I had read it in French.

I’ve re-learned that the words 옛날 and 이야기 in the title   mean respectively “once” and “story”.

Korean was once my first language. It’s a mental torture to raise a 9 year-old Korean child in an environment where nobody speak Korean and nobody look like a Korean. It’s a soul torture to recycle a Korean child to a white Canadian child.

It’s a mental torture to raise a  child in an environment where nobody speak his/her language and nobody looks like him/her. It’s child recycling, it’s soul torture.

This a story of transracial adoption. This is my story.

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I’m told that I’m lucky.

I’m not talking about the word lucky as in “You’re lucky, you were adopted.”  But I’m talking about the word lucky that comes from some adoptees who were adopted as infants or at a young age.

They say I’m lucky because I have some pictures of the orphanage. They tell me they wish they  had a picture from their orphanges. They say that without picture or record, their first X years of their life is nothing (X being 2, 3, 4 or 5).

The orphanage pictures are the oldest pictures I’ve of when I was 9 years old. I don’t even have a picture of me when I was 2, 3, 4 or 5 years old! I wish I had a picture of me when I was younger, yet I don’t say they’re lucky because they have pictures of them when they were 5.

Lucky isn’t the right word.

They tell me that I’m lucky  or that they’re envious of me because I remember my arrival day/gotcha day. They wish they had memory of the flight that brought them to their adoptive parents.

My arrival day was  a sad, lonely and frightening day. It’s the day that followed the day  my own people sent me away forever. I don’t understand why they would want to remember such a sad day.

Lucky isn’t the right word.

They tell me that I’m lucky  or that they’re envious of me because I have memory of my life in Korea with my natural family.

Yes, I remember well my Korean chilhood. Not only my Korean childhood, I also remember the part of my life when the Korean words were fading away from my head making a hole in my heart.

I remember my childhood in Korea, but I remember it as if it had taken place in French. I also remember the assimilation.

I remember my Korean childhood in French, that is to say I remember the things I’ve thought, heard or said as if it had taken place in French. I remember the things that I did, such as bowing in front of my parents or adults, receiving or giving things with my two hands. But I remember my Korean childhood with the mind of a French-speaking Quebecer.

Sometimes I try hard to remember the Korean words I’ve heard, thought or said; I then remember my Korean life as it had happened in English, my second language. When I make great effort trying to remember the words I’ve once spoken, it sometimes makes me sick with fever.

If you tell me I’m lucky you don’t know how it feels to remember your  life that had taken place in your mother language you don’t speak nor understand following a forced assimilation.  You don’t have a slight idea how it feels to remember  your childhood as if it had taken place in the language you were forced to learn by assimilation. You don’t have a slight idea how it feels to remember you were once  a Korean and to know you have since long became a French-speaking Quebecer by assimilation.

Assimilation is the rape of a soul. My body was emptied of everything Korean and forcefully penetrated with everything French Canadian. But they failed to empty my memory from it.

If there are two women who have been raped, one who doesn’t remember anything and the other who remembers the rape, you wouldn’t tell the woman who remembers that she’s lucky.

Lucky isn’t the right word.

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