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In the memoir Older sister. Nor necessarily related, Jenny Heijun Wills recounts a journey of self-discovery, homecoming, and the trials and triumphs of kinship. Adopted at an early age, Wills met her birth-family and origin country as an adult, a process that entailed piecing together a painful past.

While Older sister is filled with interesting themes, an element that stood out to us was language learning. In the beginning of the book, the author wrote the following of her transition from Korea to Canada:

“Early on, I was scrubbed until my skin turned pink. I was programmed to speak English, then French, and to place my fork and knife side by side on my plate when I had finished eating.”

Jenny Heijun Wills

After reflecting on the quote above, consider the words Wills uses to describe early childhood experiences . Why does she use the word “programmed” to communicate the languages she had to learn? What does she mean by the preceding and proceeding statements on skin color and table habits? As you ponder these questions, consider how this excerpt of Older Sister relates to your own experiences as an English student.


Discussion Questions

  • What does Jenny Heijun Wills’ memoir reveal about her past?
  • In which ways was Wills made to conform into a new culture?
  • How do her experiences relate to your own life experiences?

After reading Older Sister. Not necessarily related (and writing down questions and new vocabulary) join us for an online discussion. We will meet on Friday, February 19 at 11:00 AM EST. Click here to RSVP.

Practice

  • What does Jenny Heijun Wills' memoir reveal about her past?
  • In which ways was Wills made to conform into a new culture?
  • How do her experiences relate to your own life experiences?
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