When you immigrate to a new country at a young age, you quickly realize how much you stand out. Like a sore thumb, you stick out in a way that makes you wonder why you even woke up that morning. Having adopted a new homeland at the age of 5, and without speaking a word of English, it was a difficult adjustment period. Lunches were eaten alone, and I would sweat through my t-shirt during class-time because I could not understand a word of what the teacher was saying. And this is not to mention recess. Recess was the worst! 30 minutes of time spent listening to the hoots and hollers of children, happy to be freed from the confines of their classroom, playing all sorts of games. After all, it is difficult to be included as part of any group when no one could understand what you meant when you asked to join them to play. Months and months passed, and I was lonely and miserable.
Baseball was my saving grace. By happenstance, as I was standing alone by the baseball diamond, I was invited to participate in a game during one recess. They needed one player to even out the sides, and I was a warm body that would suffice. Hallelujah I thought! I learned quickly that hitting a baseball was not as easy as it looked, but that did not matter. It was the first time I was included, and boy did it feel incredible! Over the next several months, I learned that no matter what language you spoke, the language of baseball was the same. It was through baseball that I had the opportunity to form my first friendships, and that finally allowed me to feel like I belonged in a new country.