Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tala, A Sweet 14 Year Old Lady...

Tonight at Leysin American School was Casino Night. It was an opportunity for all of the students to get together and hang out. I ended up hanging out with Gina, one of my queens, and Tala, a sweet 14 year old lady from Palestine.

She had friends, who are from Saudi Arabi, who she did not want to hang out with during this event. She felt isolated and did not want to engage with the same people (boys) they did, so she began to talk to me. I learned a lot from this young lady...

We chatted about her home in Palestine. She shared with me that her family has 3 nannies to whom she is nice to all of the time. She told me a story about how she was buried in studies for school and did not want to break her studying to clean. So, she politely asked her nanny to clean her room. A few hours later, when she returned to her room, she said her nanny told her to try not to make such a mess next time because it took her a while to clean it. Tala was appalled that she said this her, especially when she was so nice to her. She began to tell me that she new other young people who treated their nannies badly. She refused to be like them. Her goal was to make eye contact and smile with those she meets so that she can get good points (She is muslim and in her faith they believe they get good and bad points based on their actions. She said they even get good points for a certain number of letters they read in the Koran!)

We then chatted about school, which she is very serious about and focused on. Out of 7, her G.P.A. is 6.7. She ended the school year being the youngest in her grade and had the highest average, in which she was awarded for. Her school, which is private and international, is very strict and has an outstanding academic program. She asked me questions about American schools because she said American students do not seem to know English, their native language, very well. She remembered a few American and Canadian students who attended her school who wrote in text language and used improper grammar--she was confused. I responded that as an English teacher, I was too! 

I gained an opportunity to listen to and encourage Tala, who talked to me for almost 2 hours about a wide range of things that involved her life. At the end of our conversation, she hugged and thanked me for listening. She said she was especially thankful that I did not lie to her. I asked her why would I and what would I lie about. She responded with the fact that most people tease her or ignore her. She said that after I listened to her, I told her that she need to take pride in her accomplishments (she was hard on herself for not making perfect grades and studying harder for school--even though she was the top of her class) and stop being so hard on herself. She said the only other person who said that to her was her mother. She then went on to share that she had no best friends and she wanted to stay in contact with me (how sweet). I graciously accepted her offer of friendship, but also told her that she did not need a best friend, but a good friend who would also listen and offer her advice. I told her that her friends can be adults too because she exclaimed that she cannot tell her mom everything (what teen can? lol!). 

I was very impressed with Tala's amount of knowledge of the world, her mannerisms and her level of maturity as she did not act like 14 year olds that I have encountered. She is going to turn out to be one outstanding woman...

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