Assimilating to a New Culture: The Three Things Challenge

Marcie had never planned to live in Japan, but her husband, Carlton, an Army surgeon, had been stationed there during the Korean War. He had practically demanded that she and their three children join him. How would she cope in a place where she did not know the language? The journey to Japan by freighter had taken nearly a month. By the time the family had arrived, Marcie was so exhausted.

She was not superstitious, but she had found a four-leaf clover near her home. She considered it good luck, and the fact that they had arrived safely was evidence of its power. Now, she just had to survive caring for three children, ages 6, 4, and 1, and her husband in an unfamiliar place, all by herself.

But, when they arrived at the home that had been assigned to them, a little Japanese woman emerged and reached for the youngest child. Marcie, not knowing the woman and wondering why she was trying to take her child from her, refused to give her the child, backing away from the woman, afraid of her. The little woman had a wizened face, full of wrinkles, and she never smiled.

Just as Marci was about to start screaming, Carlton emerged from the house. Laughing at her, he said, “This is Yoko, and she will be children’s amah, meaning maid. Give her the child. She is not trying to steal the boy, Darling. She’s here to help you.”

Feeling silly, Marcie gratefully released the child to Yoko, who finally smiled. Over the next two years, Yoko not only took very good care of the children, but she taught Marcia to speak the language and helped her assimilate to a new culture. If it had not been for Yoko, Marcia is not sure that she would have survived her Japanese experience.

Written for the Three Things Challenge by The Haunted Wordsmith for January 25: Japan, maid, clover.

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