I Made It at a Really Big School: Good-bye and Thanks

Gerson discovered an old friend from his hometown in the halls of Blair H.S.

      “Wow!” was my first impression when I first came to Montgomery Blair High School.  At first I felt like one more on the list, but now I feel very proud and happy for being part of Blair because Blair has given me so much experience. I have lived and been part of so many wonderful and terrible things as well. I remember when I just came I was so shy and nervous. I didn’t want to talk to anybody because I could not speak English at all. All I knew how to say was “hello” and “bye.”
      At the time that I came to Blair everybody was in class so I thought that I was the only Hispanic guy in the entire school. What was I thinking? Later on that day I discovered I was not correct. When I saw only a few number of students I said, “That’s weird. Why is the school so big for only a few students? That doesn’t make sense.” I said that because from where I come from, the schools are small buildings with lots of students. Well back on my country “lots” used to mean over 500 to 600 students. But when I got here the meaning of “lots” was taken to a whole new level. Now “lots” meant over 3000 students. I was shocked because that would be 20 of my schools put together and it still wouldn’t be 3000 students.
      I asked my dad, “Dad do you think teachers are patient enough to teach so many students at the same time?” And he told me that in every room there could only be 20 to 30 students. That just added to my impression so I was curious to see how big the classrooms, cafeteria, lockers, and bathrooms were.
      When I got to my first classroom, room 364, I had a class with the best teacher that I’ve ever known and ever will – Ms. Mena. The classroom was smaller than I thought it would be, but the number of students inside made it seem ok.
      Ms. Mena started asking me things and I had no clue what she was talking about and I was afraid, so I said “No hablo ingles” which means “I don’t speak English.” Then surprisingly she started to speak Spanish, so she started to ask me about my schedule and who I was. Then she guided me and told me where I was supposed to go next, but I could not understand because she started to speak in English again. I was clueless but I agreed with whatever she was saying because I was scared and just wanted to run away from that class.
      The bell rang and I was the last person to get out of the room and Ms. Mena tried to talk to me, but it was pointless. I had already made my way out of the class as quickly as I could. But once I got out, I wished I hadn’t. I got lost. I didn’t know where to go until a Hispanic guy approached and asked me in Spanish, “Hey where are you going?” I responded, “I don’t know.”
      I gave him my paper and luckily he was going to the same class, and to my surprise, the class that I had next was being taught by Ms. Mena again. I was kind of glad to see her again and mad at the same time because when she was explaining really important things to me she forgot that I couldn’t speak nor understand English. My day ended full of things to tell my family about my first day of school. I got home and told them how shocked, happy, thrilled and bad I felt, because everybody looked at me differently and did not treat me as I was expecting to be treated. I thought that the people would be a lot nicer, but I was wrong until I met people in the ESOL department. Mr. Bellino, Ms. Mena, Ms. T, Ms, H etc., the whole ESOL department.
      Everyone in ESOL urged me to keep up with school, to stay enrolled with school activities and so on. I’d like to thank the ESOL department, because now that I’m a senior I feel proud that I’ve had the opportunity to be an ESOL student and one of those wonderful teachers’ nightmares, I mean students. Thank you all for putting up with me and never giving up regardless of my attitude. Once again, thank you very much for all these years of teaching me and for your friendship and the good times that we’ve had together. 

© Copyright Silver International Newspaper, Montgomery Blair H.S. 2008 (This page was created by Fadima Diallo )