When I came to North Carolina from Korea as a little girl, my parents eventually had me attend preschool (probably so I could learn English more quickly). I remember one day, my teacher asked our whole class to bring a teddy bear to show-and-tell the next day. There would be ribbons as awards for the teddy bear show.
What is a teddy bear?
I had never heard the words “teddy bear” before, so I had no idea what it meant.
“Mom, I have to bring a teddy bear to class tomorrow,” I said in Korean to my mother when I got home. “What is a teddy bear?”
It turned out that I didn’t own any teddy bears, so my mom suggested I bring my koala bear since it was technically a stuffed bear of sorts.
For show-and-tell the next day, I nervously pulled out my koala while the other kids took out teddy bears of various colors and sizes.
Ohh… That’s what a teddy bear is!
I then looked at my stuffed koala.
Mine looks so different from theirs.
I felt like the odd one out in the class. A new kid who brought an unfamiliar toy.
I left class later that day with the “Most Unique” ribbon pinned onto my koala. I felt happy and relieved to have gotten a ribbon even though my stuffed animal didn’t look like the others and a little more confident that I could fit into America. This memory makes me smile, imagining my koala amidst a group of teddy bears.