New Student in a Foreign School


Text to Speech

Role Dialog
Narrator A Palestinian family has just emigrated from Palestine to the United States due to a permanent job re-assignment for the husband, who works for an American company that has an office in the Gaza Strip, a part of Palestine.  They have found a place to live in the USA and have enrolled their son and daughter in eleventh grade in a local Florida high school.  Thus, it is the kids’ first day of school in a new country.  Fortunately, it is also the first day of a new school year, August 10, 2016, so they won’t have to start in the middle of a school year, which would only add to their already high stress levels.  Mom is dropping the kids off at school.  It is 7:45 a.m. on a Wednesday.
 Mom Okay, kids.  Have a good first day.  I hope you make lots of new friends!  Be bold!
 Nadia Thanks, Mom!  We will.
Okay, bro’.  Let’s get our book bags and head on in before the first bell rings.  We don’t want to be late on our first day, do we?
Rashid Nope! 
Bye, Mom!
Narrator They go into the school, stop by their assigned lockers, stow their newly bought school books there, grab just the books for their first period class, which they have together, and then head to Room 101.  As they head there, they see lots of kids their age going through the same routine — putting unneeded books in lockers except for their first period books and then heading to their first classes of the day.  The two enter Room 101 and are greeted by the teacher, Ms. Jameson.
Jameson Hi.  Welcome to American History!  Just sit in any empty seat.
Nadia There are a lot of empty seats at the front of the classroom.  We may as well sit there.  Mom did say to “be bold” after all.
Rashid That she did.  Okay, the front it is.
 Narrator At precisely 8:00 a.m., the school bell rings, signaling the start of Period 1.
Jameson Welcome, students!  It’s always exciting to start a new school year!  Okay, first things first.  This is Wednesday, August 10th, Period 1, American History class.  I am Ms. Jameson.  Check your class schedules and make sure you are in the right class. 
 Narrator There is a slight commotion as students pull out and check their class schedules.  A couple of students apparently discover that they are in the wrong class, roll their eyes upwards, and then get up and leave hurriedly.
Jameson It never fails to happen.  There are always a few students who don’t read their class schedules carefully and end up in the wrong class on the first day.  (She smiles affably.)  Okay, let me take roll call to make sure we’re all here.
 Narrator She begins reading student names one at a time from a class roster.  As each student’s name is called, they answer “Here” or “Present”, and Ms. Jameson checks off their name on her roster.
Jameson Ah.  I see we have two new students… from Palestine.  Welcome to the United States, and especially welcome to Florida!  We hope to learn something about your culture as the school year proceeds.
Nadia Thank you, ma’am.  We’re very pleased to be here, and we would be happy to share some things about our culture with you when time allows.
Jameson Wonderful!  Okay, students, get out your books and turn to Chapter 1.  While you’re doing that, who can tell me why the early settlers left England in sailing ships to undertake dangerous journeys to come to the so-called New World to start a new life?
 Rashid (Thinking to himself, “Be bold, be bold.” He raises his hand in the air.)
I think I’d like to try and answer that one.
Jameson (She checks her seating chart she made hurriedly as she took roll call earlier.) 
Yes, Rashid?
 Rashid They felt persecuted because they were forced to worship a religion that they didn’t believe inIn addition, some of them wanted more personal freedoms and better opportunities than what they had in England.  In short, they hoped for a better life.
 Jameson Good answer! 
Has anyone ever heard of Plymouth Rock?
 Julie I have!  (Ms. Jameson nods her head to indicate that Julie should continue with her answer.) 
It’s the landing site of one of the first successful settlements, or colonies, in the New World.  This particular group of settlers were called Pilgrims.  Their ship was named the Mayflower.  The colony they founded in 1620 was called Plymouth Colony.  A large rock at that location was named “Plymouth Rock” to memorialize that historic landing.  That colony became the present-day city of Plymouth, Massachusetts.
 Jameson Excellent answer!
 Narrator Later, the school bell rings to signal the end of Period 1 and the students proceed to their next period.  Finally, Period 4, lunchtime, arrives, and the students break for lunch and go to the cafeteria.  Nadia and Rashid get their food from the serving line, pay at the cash register, and take their food trays to a table and sit down to eat.  A couple of other students from their first period class come up to them and look at them tentatively.
 Jim Do you mind if we sit with you?
Rashid Not at all.  Please have a seat.
Julie Jim and I have never met anyone from Palestine before!  We’re dying to hear about your country!
Narrator They begin eating and Nadia and Rashid tell Julie and Jim about the lifestyle and culture of Palestine.  The two American students listen rapt with attention.  Finally, the end-of-lunch bell rings and the students get up, dump their meal leftovers and trash into trash cans provided for that purpose, and head back to their lockers to get their books for their fifth and sixth period classes.
 Nadia Well, Rashid, that was our last class.  Let’s head out to the parking lot.  Mom should be waiting there to pick us up.
Rashid Okay, let me get the books I need for homework.  I really enjoyed the American History class!  I like learning about new adventures fraught with danger.
Nadia Yeah, me too.  Now let’s get going.
 Mom Hi, kids!  Well, how was your first day at school in a “strange new land”?  (She smiles.)
 Nadia Not too bad, Mom.  No one was carrying onions like we were.  (She laughs.)
 Rashid Yeah.  I didn’t hear a single explosion or hear an air raid attack all day.  What a boring place Florida is!  (He laughed too, very pleased that that was the case.)




  1. Teacher Lee, how simple and smooth you imagined the movement or the migration of this Palestinian family. I hope that this is the case in real life.
    You also imagined that the two kids have no problem with speaking English and understanding other students or their teacher. Thank you for your trust in our English skills. Haha.
    Our schools here don’t have this system of breaks or space for students’ books. Poor they.. they have to hold a very heavy bag all the time and sometimes they put it behind them on the chair.
    The teacher may not find a chair to take a rest! Oh. Class roster is something I discovered lately, I should memorize the names without having any file in front of me. I successfully did that and I can call every student with her name even when I’m writing on the board and hearing her blabbering with others. 

    The school bell is horrible, it’s the same anywhere. Sometimes I hate its sound because it makes me feel like there is a warning for war or a dangerous situation, while my students feel happy hearing this sound!
    I have one question, please.
    Why did you mention this point in history?
    “who can tell me why the early settlers left England in sailing ships to undertake dangerous journeys to come to the so-called New World to start a new life?” 

    1. Why did I mention Plymouth Rock?  No particular reason — an arbitrary choice.  It just seemed like a good place to “begin” American history, with our landing on the new world and starting a settlement. We did come here from England because we were unhappy there. I did not mean to imply any parallel with Palestinian history.

      Does it arouse a bad feeling or thought for some reason?

  2. It was an old tradition in Palestine in the 1980s or so.  If tear gas grenades were thrown into an area, apparently rubbing your eyes with onion juice would reduce the severity of the tear gas effect on your eyes.  Blackmatta can probably explain it better.  She says they no longer carry onions to school, as present times are more peaceful now than several decades ago.

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