The Struggle to Be an All-American Girl

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In "The Struggle to Be an All-American Girl," Elizabeth Wong explains three common differences between Chinese and American schools. The scent of the schools, the subject material, and the language are all reasons the character in this essay liked her American public school over her Chinese school. While sitting among her classmates in an empty auditorium, the only smell present was the scent of Chinese medicine and imported faraway mustiness. She demised this smell and longed for the scent of French perfume that her American teacher wore. The emphasis at Chinese school was speaking, reading, and writing. The students spent their days learning about ideographs and copying them in lines from right to left. The writing utensil they used was called a moc but and it had to be held in a way that was very uncomfortable in order to avoid smudging. This was a big difference from the way students' days were spent at American school and the subjects they were taught. The character in this essay could do the multiplication tables, she could recite all of Mars's satellites, and write reports on Little Women and Black Beauty. She was extremely embarrassed by her grandmother's nagging loud voice. She wanted to hear the quiet, lilting romance of French or the gentle refinement of the American. Her brother was even more fanatic about speaking English than she was. He was especially hard on his mother. He often criticized her for her pidgin speech. He would correct her grammar in the middle of her sentence and blame her for all the mistakes he made while speaking. After two years of Chinese school, the character in this essay was granted a cultural divorce and was able to stop going. She now considers herself multicultural and is able to have the best of both worlds.
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