My first day at an American school was when I was eleven years old and in sixth grade. I had come to The United States for the first time from India, where I was born and raised. I was very excited and I felt like I was the luckiest girl on Earth.
On my first day, my counselor walked me to my class, took me inside, and introduced me to my homeroom teacher, Mrs. Beam. As soon as I entered the room, I saw all eyes staring at me. They were motionless and completely fixed on me. They started moving along my path as I was walking towards my newly assigned seat. I felt insecure and uncomfortable. Nobody could take their eyes off of the new Indian girl.
I tried to make friends but no one wanted to talk to me. Nobody wanted to be seen in public with me. Everybody thought I was weird. It seemed as though I did not look the right way or dress the right way or even speak the right way. I did not fit in. During lunch, I dreamed about sitting with someone like everybody else, but every table I went to did not want me. They talked things about me behind my back and gave me looks and faces whenever I came near them, and so I got the message—I was not needed. Nevertheless, I decided that no matter how much that hurt, I was not going to let that bring me down.
I solved my “lunch issues” by bringing a book to read during recess and lunch while I sat alone. I solved my “class issues” by learning not to care what others thought about me and focusing on my studies. And that is how my whole sixth grade went. I did not fit in anywhere.
During that year, even though it was the most horrible time of my life, I learned the most important lesson ever, “Do not judge a book by its cover.” I have had heard this before and I know that I should not do that but I never completely understood what it meant until sixth grade when I got to experience it. Every now and then, whenever I see a new student in my classes or at lunch and I see that everyone is ignoring him or her, I go up to that person and I get to know that person. I have the courage to do so and become friends with that person because I know what it is feels like to be the odd ball. I understand. So whenever I see someone like that I remember, “Do not judge a book by it cover.”
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