Evelyn Potter - Grade 8, Miami Valley School
A Hard Start
The first day of school is always hard, especially if it is a new school. I have experienced it many times. It is even harder, though, in a foreign country where everybody speaks a foreign language.
â€œHey, itâ€™s great to see you again. Howâ€™s your summer been?â€ The classroom was bustling with chatter and commotion. Everyone was excited to see their friends after a long summer vacation. I looked around the room, seeing happy faces. Then I noticed a girl standing in a corner looking rather scared.
I was sure she was new because I had been in this class for a while. So when I finished saying hello to everyone, I went over to her. She was nervously looking around. I could tell she was uncertain about what to do. â€œHello, Iâ€™m Evelyn. Whatâ€™s your name?â€ She looked at me tentatively for a second, then answered â€œSarimaâ€. Her name sounded foreign, and I thought I heard an accent.
The teacher came in, and everyone settle down in their seats. Everyone except Sarima. The teacher came over and brought her to the front of the class. I saw that she was nervous and gave her a reassuring smile. She flashed me a quick smile back. Then the teacher said â€œQuiet down everybody! We have a new student this year. This is Sarima. She is from Congo. This is her first month in the US, and I hope you all will welcome her.â€
My friend looked at me. We had never had someone from Africa in our class before. â€œWho would like to sit next to her and help her get settled in?â€ the teacher asked. I glanced around the class. Nobody said anything. It was dead silent in the room. I saw Sarima glancing down. She looked as if she wanted to cry. I felt bad for her, but I had been looking forward to sitting next to my friend the whole summer. But was it a big deal to sit next to her, instead? Besides, I would feel terrible in Sarimaâ€™s situation. I stepped up and said â€œI would love to!â€. Sarima looked relieved and quickly came over to sit down next to me. We looked at each other and she quietly said â€œthank you.â€ At that moment, I knew we were going to be friends.
Sarima was not welcome because she was not only a stranger but also different. She was new to our culture and didn't speak much English. This made it hard for us to accept her. Still I could relate to her, as I remembered how hard the first day of school was for me. I learned that it can take one person to break through a barrier, so that someone different is accepted into a group. By having her sit next to me I could overcome my reticence towards Sarima and even offer her friendship. A friendship she returned.