From the Peach State to the Big Apple

Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, or risk that you have taken and its impact on you.

>From the Peach State to the Big Appleby, Rebecca van LaerSeptember 1, 2003Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, or risk that you have taken and its impact on you.By the time I was fourteen, I finally knew that “ya’ll” was the appropriate way to address my classmates, that “ma’am” was the way to address all women over 18, and that criticizing the Baptist faith made one a Satanist. After years of life in Georgia, I did not always adhere to standards of etiquette, but I grasped them. I was also accustomed to the lifestyle. Time always seemed to move slowly, probably because of the oppressive heat=2E The languid mood affected the entire school system. It took years to understand geometric proofs, and millennia to learn declensions in Latin. With the pace so painfully slow, I skidded through school with ease. My peers quickly picked up on this oddity. With the “Yankee accent” I had retained from my childhood in New York and the liberal views I had inherited from my parents, I was bound to stand out. Nonetheless, my classmates chose to accept me, and my eccentric wardrobe and lack of enthusiasm for the Atlanta Braves ceased to be issues. In turn, I stopped correcting the lazy grammar of my classmates, and only made fun of their drawls in jest. Georgia and I had finally reached an agreement.My experience with Southern customs and education came to a grinding halt, however, when I moved in with my father. On a freezing cold day, a day that by my standards should have felt like early summer, I was thrown into the bustle of Tappan Zee High School. A woman ushered me into an office and proceeded to forget my name three times. Once my transcripts were in hand, my guidance counselor informed me that my first year of high school was, according to curriculum standards, worthless. Political Science was not a Regents Class. Neither was World Geography. Not even Latin! The Regents system laughed at my credits and filled me with fear on our first meeting. According to its mandates, there was no evidence that I belonged in honors classes, as my Georgia classes were all mysteriously labeled “gifted.” Every classroom I walked into furthered my despair. Teachers looked at me skeptically, and many expressed doubt that I could earn credit. Students found me enigmatic. I was questioned relentlessly.”Why don’t you have an accent?” “What are you doing here?” “How did you get your hair pink?!” It seemed hopeless. Despite the lack of support, I finished the year respectably, but not happily.One plus, however, was that my guidance counselor decided that I had earned the right to enroll in more advanced classes. Without a social life, I threw myself into my schoolwork. My English essays were completed with record quality, and my Spanish improved with deadly speed. Every report card, I felt I had succeeded in my quest to prove myself capable. After months of diligence, I finally took another look at the situation. It was no longer necessary to do homework as if my life depended on it. Instead of looking at me with suspicion, my classmates looked at me with an acceptance that echoed that of my former friends. It taught me a valuable lesson: one’s worth is not dependent on one’s geographic location. Besides, I believe my experience has helped me =96 with the manners of a southerner and the competitiveness of a northerner, how can one go wrong?

Leave a Comment