I don’t remember what the day looked like or what I wore, but I did remember having a backpack, yes, I had bought one in anticipation having read that I would need to buy a few bulky books. What I remembered that summer morning was the voice I would always remember – it went like this:
“I will now start the class”, the woman I was to later identify as Su Cheng Lee broke through the usual cacophony of students trying to settle down to a class. I must be the only student in class who has no idea what he was doing here. My first problem was how to log into the Algonquin database. I had been given a student number and a password and this was to be the key to my interactions with the school for the next two years. In other words, I was to be addressed by my name in class but officially, I was a number.
I settled my frame behind one of the 29 high-end Apple computers that was to serve as the major laboratory for IMD students. I was so nervous that for the first time, I could feel sweat greasing my palms. Within seconds, most of my mates, 90% of who are in their teens had settled to the fresh order, their computer screens bursting into life like a mid-day African sun slicing through a cloudy sky.
I literally begged one of my new mates for help me logging in. He obliged, but did it so fast; he left me pondering for a minute what had just happened. I mumbled gratitude but he was back on his own system to bother responding.
‘Open Dreamweaver’, the teacher ordered as I was still busy looking at her name on the whiteboard. Whatever happened to chalk and blackboards answered itself with this glossy and glittery board with dusters and markers hanging at the base. While I took in the detail, my mind instructed me to concentrate on classwork, so I jerked my thoughts off blackboards and back into the blank computer screen.
‘Dreamweaver’, my mouth silently pronounced the word.
‘What in heaven’s name is that’, I asked no one in particular?
‘Dreamweaver’, I repeated … over and over that I missed the next set of instructions, which appeared to be falling from the lips of this lanky woman like ripened mangoes swaying to the rhythm of the summer breeze. I was close to tears and for the first time, not only did the sweat in my palms increase, I was now close to tears.
‘Jesus in heaven, I am in the wrong class’, I told myself even as my mind asked me to concentrate assuring that there was no need to panic. ‘Everything would be all right,’ I reassured myself as I always do when everything else failed.
Hapless and helpless, I turned to another student for help finding this thing called Dreamweaver. He said something like checking the computer and launching the application. ‘Application’, I found myself repeating loudly.
‘Yes’, he said, eyeing me with mocked curiosity. I must have just landed from Mars.