Teacher Shames Immigrant Girl for Her Accent, Regrets It 12 Years Later – Story of the Day
A young immigrant girl was mocked by one of the teachers in her new high school but years later she had her revenge.
Saira Hamid was fifteen years old when her family moved to the United States from their native Pakistan. Her father, a world-famous neurologist, had been offered a job at a cutting-edge research hospital in Houston Texas, and Saira's world was turned upside-down.
Saira was enrolled in a nearby school, and on her first day, she was nervous but excited. She knew she was a good student and her teachers and her teachers had always told her her English was good. All she was worried about was making new friends.
Saira walked nervously into her first class of the day, and sat down at an empty desk near the back, next to a sweet-faced girl with a riot of ginger hair and freckles. The other girl grinned at Saira.
Several children were twisting around to look at her with friendly curiosity and Saira felt herself starting to relax. She was smiling back when the door opened abruptly and a tall, slim woman walked in.
"Good morning class!" she said and placed a heavy stack of books on her desk. Her gaze swept the class and immediately zeroes in on Saira. "I see we have a newcomer!"
Saira smiled at her and nodded shyly. The teacher smiled back. "I'm Mrs. Kern. Stand up, and introduce yourself, tell us a little about yourself."
"Good morning, M'em." Saira said carefully, "My name is Saira Hamid. I am 15 years old and I am from Pakistan..."
Saira's grammar was perfect, but her accent was strong, and her speech had the cadence of her native Urdu. The teacher stared at her, and a sneer twisted her lips. "Can you repeat that please?"
Saira felt herself flush. "My name is Saira Hamid. I am 15 years old and I am from Pakistan."
The teacher tapped her fingers thoughtfully on her desk, "Well Saira, I hope your math is better than your English because I can hardly understand you." She smiled nastily and imitated Saira's staccato diction. "You learn speaky English quicky-quicky!"
The class erupted into mocking laughter, and Saira saw the once-friendly faces twist with derision. She lowered her head and stared at her desk. "Well?" asked her teacher, "How are your maths skills."
Saira's voice came out in a whisper. "Good, Me'm, I think..."
The teacher looked at her with disdain. "You 'tink.' Well, do you see this?" she tapped the whiteboard where a complex equation was written out. "Come on up and show me how well you 'tink.'"
Mrs. Kern never imagined that the shy young immigrant girl she had bullied would one day hold her future in her hands.
Saira walked up to the whiteboard and allowed the familiar fascination of the numbers to suck her in. She picked up the chalk and quickly moved from section to section, solving the problems, and wrote down the answer.
The teacher was watching her with obvious irritation. "Well..." she said, "That's not bad...But you skipped a step."
Saira smiled, "No, Me'm, I worked the variation like this..." and she quickly wrote out the step in long-hand on the board.
The teacher's irritation was quickly deepening to dislike. "I see." she snapped, "Don't skip, and don't do logic frog-jumps, that will cost you points in an exam. Get back to your desk."
From that day on, the other kids took the lead from the teacher and mocked Saira's accent -- there was nothing else to pick on. Saira was a brilliant student, and had top marks in all her subjects, including English, but where she really shone was at maths.
Over the next three years, Saira dedicated herself to her studies. An ambition had woken in her heart on her first day of school and she was determined to make her dream come true.
Saira was the school's top math student in her senior year and qualified for the International Mathematical Olympiad where she walked away with a bronze medal. Mrs. Kern congratulated her and added sourly, "You're just lucky math has no accent..."
Saira's high school career was over, and a new challenging adventure awaited her -- college. While many of her colleagues agonized over career choices, Saira knew exactly what she wanted to be.
Twelve years later, the school was informed that they would be welcoming a new head, a brilliant academic with an Ivy League background. On the first day, the staff received an email summoning them to a meeting after classes.
The teachers were buzzing with curiosity. Who was this woman? Was she going to make big changes? What could they expect? The staff was stunned when a slender young woman with black hair walked in.
She was so young! The young woman smiled at them. "Good morning, I'm Mrs. Fannon, and I'm looking forward to working with you all." The new head spoke in an elegant British accent, they all noted.
The head looked around the room, and said: "I see some familiar faces! Mr. Langdon, Miss Deveraux, Mrs. Kern..."
Mr. Langdon looked at the poised young woman in front of them. "You know me? But..."
Saira smiled at him. "Saira Hamid. I was in your English class in senior year?"
Mr. Langdon was delighted. "Saira! I mean, Mrs. Fannon! I didn't recognize you!"
Saira saw Mrs. Kern flush out of the corner of her eye and smiled to herself. Mrs. Kern definitely remembered her! After the meeting was over Saira called Mrs. Kerm.
"Mrs. Kern, might I have a word?"
The woman smiled stiffly and walked to Saira. "Yes, Mrs. Fallon."
"Mrs. Kern, I want to thank you."
Mrs. Kern stared at her in confusion. "Thank me?"
"Yes. You were the one who inspired me to become a teacher."
"Oh..." Mrs. Kern smiled uncertainly. "I'm glad, I mean...It's always good to know we've had a positive influence..."
Saira laughed. "I didn't say it was positive. You see, Mrs. Kern, I was determined that I was going to a good teacher, and a nurturing one. I studied at Harvard and Oxford, I've worked hard to become that kind of person."
Mrs. Kern was looking shocked, and Saira continued: "I wanted to tell you, that if you show the kind of bullying attitude you inflicted on me towards any child again, your career is over."
Mrs. Kern walked away from the staff room with a sour taste in her mouth. She knew that from that moment on the new headmistress would be keeping a sharp eye on her. Whether she liked it or not, she was about to become a better person.
What can we learn from this story?
1. Don't pick on people for their differences. We are all different. We look different, and we sound different. Mrs. Kern's mockery made Saira's life a misery when she could have helped her fit into the school.
2. Life brings us surprises. Mrs. Kern never imagined that the shy young immigrant girl she had bullied would one day hold her future in her hands.
Share this story with your friends. It might inspire people to share their own stories or to help someone else.
Any resemblance in this story to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
If you enjoyed this story, you might like this one about a gold digger who humiliated a shop assistant and was instantly hit by karma.