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I Learn Library

A human library inspired by the stories in the film

With all the racism and hate going around, I worry a lot

By Ahmed Abdullah  |   From : New York, NY  |   School : Susan Wagner High School

I was born in a small town in Punjab, Pakistan. With me was my twin brother. I would spend the next 8 years of me life in a country which I love with all my heart, even though a lot of people would have different thoughts about Pakistan and its people. I, for one, still support Pakistan and hope for its better days. As I stayed in Pakistan at the age of I would say 6, I started to have a stuttering problem. My parents got worried, as any parents would be, especially my mom. They wanted to help their child to speak again. My dad had been living in the U.S for more than 10 years and he thought the treatment should be done there. He applied for a visa for me, my mom, my sister and my brother. As a kid, I only knew of 2 countries, Pakistan and India. I thought we had been the only people on this world and boy was I wrong. My parents told me about America and how people lived differently there. There were tall buildings and different people. I dreamed about seeing this land and how I would be so happy to be there.

When the day came, it was 2 am. My mom woke me up to say we’re going to America and to get ready. I still remember this day, how can I not?! I went to wash my face and my mom gave me clothes to wear. I think I drank a glass of milk or it could be something else. We headed to the airport in the city, which was 3 to 4 hours away. Being a kid I did not have that much energy to stay up, so I slept during the trip, not to mention it was 3 am. I did not see most of my family that day. I think it was due to our time of leaving for the airport. Anyhow, we came to the airport and I saw this great building and lots of light everywhere. It was something very special and it made me smile and just laugh.

Now, we were waiting our turn to give in the luggage and show our passports. It takes 18 hours for a person to go from Pakistan to America. Also, there is a 3 to 4 hours stay in Manchester, UK. I only slept in the airline for 2 to 3 hours because I was so excited. Also, there was a t.v full of movies and cartoons speaking a language I did not understand. As the plane landed in JFK airport, I saw so many other planes around it. As I was inside the plane every person was a Pakistani, so when I got out of the plane, I saw so many people of different color and it was so amazing. I was very tired from the long journey and so was my family. We wanted to go straight home, but we had to be in the airport for another 2 hours, as we were new arrivals.

Finally the time came and we were allowed to go home. My uncle had picked us up and it was another great experience for me. I had never seen a bridge in my life before, so when I saw the Verrazano–Narrows Bridge, I saw beautiful, bright lights and I fell in love with New York. I later began to go to school here in Staten Island at P.S.18, as a 3rd grader and so did my brother. Then, we went back to Pakistan when I was in the 5th grade to meet our family there, but we only stayed there for a year and I did 6th grade there. I wanted to come back from Pakistan very badly. It wasn’t that I hated Pakistan, it was just that I was used to living in the U.S. We did come back and I started 7th grade at I.S.27.

For the most part, nothing had changed. My friends attended the same middle school and they helped me. Although that didn’t mean everything was alright because I had to go in ESL again, which now they call it ENL. My teacher was good but didn’t understand her most of the time. I also had to go through a lot of hate and racism. I still remember one morning I was going to my class, walking up the staircase. A kid probably in the same grade, comes up to me, calls me a terrorist and says to me that I have a gun in my bag. This of course hurts me but I ignored him and headed to my class. I sat for about 10 mins and my name is called by a lady outside of my classroom. She had 2 school guards with her and told me that there was a kid who said I had a gun in my bag, and for security purposes, they needed to check my bag. I said I did not mind them checking my bag and they could do it, because the bag was filled with notebooks, notepads, pens, pencils and other school equipment. Which was not at all surprising.

A month or two after that I faced another incident. I was walking home from school with my brother. We were talking and a kid my age I guess, runs from behind and pushes me. I fall luckily on the grass side, which was to my right and not on the traffic side which was to the left. With all the racism and hate going around, my mother worries a lot about me and I worry a lot about her. I only hope that people could see beyond colors, beyond religion, beyond ethnicity. I only wish we could just see that we’re all just humans, that we’re not different. I’m just an ordinary teenage like any other. I play video games, I hangout with my friends, I joke around a lot, I sometimes hate school, I sometimes sleep till noon and I get depressed, I get anxiety, you know all that good stuff. My skin color or my religion or ideas doesn’t make me any different.

Anyways, I completed my 7th grade and my grandfather passed away in Pakistan so my dad had to go back to Pakistan, as he was the oldest son, and take care of the business there. We all went back and I had to do 7th grade again because I didn’t know how to write or read Urdu. I had to do 7th grade all over again and then 8th, 9th and 10th. I did not want to stay in Pakistan any longer, I wanted to go back to the U.S. Therefore, my dad took me back to the U.S. I did have difficulties, as I had last, first, and second time I came to the U.S.

I became a junior at Susan E. Wagner High School and had no credits whatsoever. That part was very difficult to deal with because I had to make up credits to graduate in senior year. Later on, I did get my transfer credits from Pakistan but I had to attend summer school in order to make up English credits. Also, I had to do my ENL classes all over again because I left for over 3 to 4 years. Still I’m happy I did those classes again because I met 2 of the nicest teachers in school, Ms. Broecker and Ms. Lombardi. Also, Mr. Teutonic, but he was my Global teacher. To me, he’s the best teacher in Wagner. They have helped me a lot in this school and I just want to thank them.

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