(Draft of a work-in-progress poem)
The goal among the international students at my uni
was to completely drop our accents
to sound like we’d grown up with English birthday songs and ice cream floats.
We wanted to be able to go to any bar, to order any coffee
and keep any conversation going for however long a time,
only to be able to slip in an “oh, I’m not from England, actually”
and watch peoples’ surprise.
We worked so hard to lose our accents,
the sound of what we thought was “not enough practice”,
not good enough.
Oh, how wrong we were.
Accents are identity
just as much as names and clothes and the street corners you crossed on your way to school
Your accent’s where you’ve come from,
the journey to where you are now,
it shows the world you dared to try.
Your accent is your family traditions,
the lessons of your mum’s lullabies,
the laundry songs of your house,
a grandma’s lap,
and the courage it took to get on that plane alone.
Your accent is a road map of the people you care about,
those who took the time to sit with you while you were learning,
who let you spin wonders of the words you didn’t understand
and didn’t mind you trying on their pronunciations for size.
Your accent is your home away from home,
the amalgamation of all that you are and all that you’ve been.
So instead of dropping our accents,
let us celebrate them.
For all that we are,
and all that we’re yet to learn,
and every step along the way.