I was filled with excitement while walking to the airport with my mother and brother. I was going back to Algeria. My mother told me that we were going to stay there for a year. I told her that I was ready for this big change but I actually wasn’t. The change that made me view everything differently. The change that made me a weak yet strong person. The trip lasted eighteen hours and we finally arrived to Algeria.
It was the beginning of September. The chilly soft breeze hitting our faces as we made it to our apartment in Medea, Algeria. My mom’ first step was to find a good school for me and a daycare for my brother. This procedure took a week-long, meaning that I started school late. I was thrilled to go to my new school. I was always ready for changes, but I didn’t realize that it was going to be that difficult. That morning, I gathered the school supplies that I bought from America and placed them on my pink book bag. My mother walked me to the classroom.
“Good luck honey!” She waved as she walked away.
I waved back and turned to the front door.
“It’s only fourth grade… it’s not going to be too hard... I got this!” I thought to myself. I entered the huge classroom and everyone's eyes fell on me. My face flushed red as I averted my eyes to the ground.
“Hello, you must be the new student.” said an old lady, whom I presumed to be the teacher.
“Yes...” I replied quietly.
“Welcome, I am your teacher. Why don’t you introduce yourself?” she stated.
I turned to face the students, they were all girls and the seats were arranged in rows facing the board. I observed the classroom and noticed that there were about forty students. I introduced myself and noted the fact that I’m from America and I don’t know Arabic very well. The majority of their eyes widened when I mentioned I’m am not from here, as a result, some started whispering to each other.
“You may have a seat,” the teacher pointed to the empty seat in the front row.
I slowly walked to my new seat, ignoring all the eyes observing my every movement. I sat down and the teacher began her the lecture. After seven hours of class, the bell rang and I quickly packed my stuff and left the classroom, avoiding those who wanted to talk to me. As I walked out I saw my mother waiting for me at the school entrance.
“Hey sweetie, how was school?” she questioned in a sweet and soft tone.
“I don’t like it.” I answered bluntly.
“I didn’t understand anything the teacher was saying… I want to go back to America. Mama! I’m scared how can I do this?!” I continued with a desperate tone.
“This is just the beginning Amira, you know the basics of Arabic, I know you can do this, I know your capacities.” She answered with honesty. I stared at her with a look of disbelief.
“Everyone has the willpower to succeed, and if you work hard for it then you will succeed.” She said with pride. I stayed silent but let those words sink in. It gave me a little bit of hope.
Months have passed by and I was slowly starting to understand what was going on in class. My mother was always there to support me and help me with my study. Because of her, I learned how to read and write in Arabic. The struggle wasn’t easy, but I always managed to push myself to the limit. Sometimes it would take me hours just to finish my homework, and in my free time I would read Arabic books and take notes on them.
It was almost the end of the school year, the period of the major exams. The exams that determined whether I would pass to the next grade or not. I would stay up until two in the morning studying for those exams, with the help of my mother. Days flew by and It was the first day of the exams, I entered a different classroom filled with students who I never saw before. My heart was pounding loudly as I sat down and waited for the exam paper.
“This is it,” I thought wiping away the sweat that was building up on my forehead.
“I really hope my hard work will pay off,” I said to myself as I lifted my number two pencil and wrote my name at the top of the exam. Two weeks later, the results were announced. A mixture of emotions stirred inside me. A combination of fear, excitement, and disappointment. “Did I pass or not?!” I thought loudly in my head. I opened my booklet and noticed a green stamp near the bottom of the page. I passed and with high grades! My eyes filled up with tears of joy. I couldn’t wait to tell my parents. They will be so proud of me. I walked outside and saw my mom outside holding a tissue and wiping out the tears in her eyes.
“I passed,” I smiled and hugged her.
More tears started to flow down her cheeks as she embraced me back.
“I knew you could do it, I’m so proud of you.” she sobbed. I remember when my mother would go up to the teachers and ask them what my next unit will be about and they would always reply with “It’s okay if she fails.” Even the principal once said, “There are people born here and don’t pass. This is her first year of school in Algeria, so I highly doubt she will pass.” I was furious after hearing that, and I wanted to prove them wrong. In the end, I did. I showed them my capacity and willpower. The support I had and my strong determination led me to success.