Amazing Kids! Magazine

Sarah and the Weird New Girl

By Davi Jacobs, age 12, Maryland

 

Sarah was very excited to go to school the next day. Mrs. Harris announced yesterday that a new girl was coming from across the globe. Sarah brushed her teeth and flew out the door, running to catch up to her friends. Since she lived very close to Rosendale Elementary, her parents did not have to take her to school each day.

“Can you wait to see the new girl?” Anne asked.

“I really want to see her. I wonder if she has siblings or pets,” Roxanne responded.

All three friends ran inside the school just as the bell rang. When Sarah reached the door, she looked around and felt confused. Everyone looked familiar. Where was the new girl?

“Mrs. Harris, where is the new girl?” Robert asked.

“She is a little late today. Hopefully she will come soon,” Mrs. Harris answered.

At that moment, the school’s vice principal stepped into the room.

“Hello, Mrs. Harris’s class. I would like to introduce you to a new classmate.” She beckoned behind her, and a colored foot stepped into the classroom.

Sarah stared in awe as the colored foot stepped forward to reveal a very different-looking girl from any other girl Sarah had ever seen before. She was wearing bright green and sky blue slippers, pink and purple silk flaps hung on a brown dress, rainbow tights, and a headscarf that covered all her hair. Did she even have hair? Sarah wondered.

“This is Thulia Sophoclis,” the vice principal said, giving Thulia a little nudge. “She is from Bangladesh, which is a country in the Middle East.”

Everyone stared, unable to say anything (everyone except for Mrs. Harris and the vice principal, of course). Thulia looked at the floor, looking as if she wanted to disappear under it.

“We are very glad to have you join our class, Thulia. I am sure that you will fit in quickly,” Mrs. Harris stated warmly. A couple of boys snickered, and Thulia scowled.

Sarah did not feel excited anymore, and she did not want a new girl. After the vice principal left, Mrs. Harris made an announcement.

“Class, since Thulia is new here, she needs help figuring out many things. I have chosen someone who I think should introduce Thulia to her surroundings. That person is…Sarah!” Mrs. Harris announced.

Sarah rolled her eyes. For a minute, she was happy that Mrs. Harris chose her over everyone else, but then she felt sour again.

“Thulia, you will sit next to Sarah.”

Sarah made an effort to be polite for her teacher’s sake and took her binder off the empty seat next to her.

“Class, you will have a project with a partner this week. The project is learning about another classmate’s personal background. You will write an essay on that person’s religion, traditions, etc. You will pick you partner, but Sarah is with Thulia.”

Sarah gasped. Her friends wouldn’t be working with her. Thulia did not look nice, and she did not look like she liked this arrangement since she scrunched up her nose. Mrs. Harris told everyone to get to work.

“Why do you wear a headscarf?” Sarah asked.

“It’s not a headscarf. I wear a hijab for my religion,” Thulia said.

This conversation went on for a while, and soon Sarah went home.

“Mom, I’m home!” she called.

“Hi, honey,” said Sarah’s mom. “How was the new girl?”

“Her name is Thulia, and she is really weird. Her clothing is so colorful and ugly. She does not say a word, and I have to be her partner for a project,” she protested.

Sarah’s mom patted Sarah’s back.

“Sounds like you aren’t satisfied with Thulia. Maybe you should give her a chance. She may prove you wrong.”

Sarah chewed her granola bar and swallowed.

“But, Mom, you don’t understand at all. I don’t want her as a partner.”

“Sweetie, I was in the same place as you when I was around your age. Her name was Sandy Ruth, and she was as weird as can be. She spoke with a very strong accent and ate strange food during lunch. But I got to know her, and we became very quick friends.”

Sarah shrugged.

“Okay, I’ll give her a chance. Thanks, Mom,” she said, hugging her mom.

The next day, Sarah found Thulia and asked if she wanted to come over.

“Maybe you should come over to my home instead. My mother is making traditional eats,” Thulia said.

They called their mothers, and it was settled that Sarah would come over to Thulia’s house after school. As Sarah and Thulia entered Thulia’s home, a strong aroma of food rushed past her, and her stomach growled. Sarah breathed in the smell deeply.

“Hello, welcome to the Sophoclises’ home,” said a very nice-looking woman with a round face and similar clothes to Thulia’s. This woman was her mother.

“Thank you for having me,” Sarah said politely. Thulia’s mother kissed Thulia as they dropped off their backpacks by the door. Thulia’s dad came home and greeted Sarah with the same respect as her mother. The Sophoclises’ home was filled with warm, spicy aromas unlike any Sarah had ever smelled, and when they were called to the table, Sarah could hardly believe the riches displayed there. Thulia said that the crispy-looking, potato-filled triangles were called Samosas and then went on to explain the other dishes. A series of huge, white bowls contained channa masala (golden brown chickpeas in a thick, fragrant sauce), palak paneer (bright green pureed spinach with cubes of white cheese), and aloo gobi (potato and cauliflower pieces speckled with mustard seeds and a spice Sarah already knew was called cumin). There was also a huge plate of scented white rice, a pile of steaming round bread called rotis, and a bowl of cool yogurt with bits of mint called raita. Sarah’s eyes and mouth watered all at once, and she took a seat between Thulia and her mom. Thulia’s dad sat across from them. Thulia’s mom grabbed Sarah’s plate and heaped a pile of food onto it. Sarah stared at the huge pile of food in disbelief. Surely Mrs. Sophoclis couldn’t expect her to eat all of it, could she?

“Oh, look at this, how silly of me,” she said, pulling the plate back. Mrs. Sophoclis reached across the table, grasped two pieces of the browned, flat bread, and layered them on top of Sarah’s plate.

“There,” she said, handing Sarah the plate again.

Thulia’s mother and father told Sarah about their life in Bangladesh, their traditions, and their religion. Sarah wrote everything on a sheet of paper that Thulia gave her. Although she could not finish even half of it, the dinner Sarah was served at the Sophoclises’ went down as one of the greatest meals of her life.

Soon, Sarah’s mom came to pick her up, and she and Thulia’s mom talked for a while.

As Sarah was leaving, Thulia hugged her good-bye.

“Thanks for coming, Sarah. See you again tomorrow,” she whispered.

Sarah grinned.

“Thanks for the awesome meal. Next time, come to my home, and I’ll show you American food!”

They laughed, and Sarah felt radiant. She made a new, unexpected friend, and she was proud of herself. Being different isn’t so bad, Sarah thought. It’s kind of cool!

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