Monday, 11 March 2019


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Anja is from Kosovo. She just joined the class a month ago in the second semester of the year. She speaks no English, but appears to have some learning difficulties too.

Initially, the girls in the class took her under their wing, but all that has changed. They discover Anja is different. She looks, speaks and acts differently. Plus she let on that she was older than most of them...two years older. The fifth graders do not know how to embrace all that uniqueness. For sometime Anja did not realize they had lost interest in hanging out with her, so she followed them everywhere. It became obvious even to her at some point, yet that didn't stop her from seeking their friendship...though not quite so enthusiastically.

Through it all, Anja carried herself admirably. She always had a smile on her face, and got on with the business of school without complaint...or so it appeared. At the next parent meeting her mother informed the teacher sadly that her daughter was not happy in school. She thought the other girls didn't like her because she was so much older. The teachers are amazed. Anja announces her age at the least opportunity, with her ubiquitous smile. The very next day in a small group activity, the subject of age comes up as the students discuss a story character, and sure enough Anja pipes up. "I am 12 years old!"
This time the teacher looks more closely, and she sees it.  Face smiling yet fearful. Eyes beseeching acceptance. Trepidation masked by a stoic sense of self. "I am 12 years old!"

Anja was more than she appeared. She could barely speak English, but she spoke for us all...and in point of fact, she spoke better than most.

1 comment:

  1. This reminds me of Jacqueline Woodson's Each Kindness, the new girl was never truly accepted. Breaks my heart.