We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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It is weird; people think, because of the color of my skin and my ability to speak Spanish, that I am Hispanic. They always look confused when I introduce myself as Mohammad. I speak Urdu, Punjabi, Spanish and Hindi. I have always loved learning languages, and I mostly liked going to school. I liked the buzz of people all around; but like a buzzing bee, some- times the people at school stung.  I went to a different school before my current one. At my old school, people bullied me. They would force me to buy them things, and make me give them my homework. If I didn’t do what they said, they would threaten me and try to fight me. I was usually able to stop the fighting by finding an adult, but it wasn’t a way I wanted to spend my days at school. Some people eventually became my friends, but then they started rumors about me. Not everyone believed the rumors, but they still hurt me. I just wanted to learn, but the kids at my old school made it so hard. Whenever I watched movies that took place in a school, I would always imagine being that character and living a different life than the one I was living. There was nothing I wanted more in life than to switch schools, but at the same time I did not want to lose the friends I had made.  The day my parents told me we were moving, I was both excited and nervous. I was going to go to a new school, and that can be scary when you are fifteen-years-old. However, nothing could be worse than what I had been through at my old school. I was happy because I could finally escape the torture that school had been for me. However, I was nervous that the bully- ing I had endured would happen again at my new school. I was also worried that it would be hard to make new friends that I could trust, since I had been in bad friendships in the past.  When I walked into school on the first day, I was struck by the enormous size of the school, and how loud it was. Loud in a good way, like laughter and people having fun. I could feel a peaceful and positive vibe right when I walked in. I could tell the teachers were happy to have me in the class and the students were going to be friendly. I felt more at home with people from the same background and people who spoke the same language as me. Not only was I in classes with people who shared a similar background to mine, I was able to learn more about other cultures as well. I have loved the opportunity to get to know new people and learn so much without the problems that I had in the past.  Walking into my new school was like being reborn as a new person. I could finally be myself without pretending to be someone I’m not. I realize now that sometimes when bad things happen in your past, it can make you stronger and appreciate things more. I am more satisfied with school than I ever was, and now I can get back to learning the things I have always wanted to learn. School is now everything I had always imagined and wanted it to be. School now is like in the movies I have seen and the books I have read. I am also enjoying living the original version of myself. I always want to be happy and carefree, but problems in my past made it hard for me to be that person. 

© Mohammad Shah. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person’s teacher.