We Are America

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Photo ofRiha Fatima

I came to the United States in 2018 from India. It was hard for me to leave my friends and family. I was new to the country. I was here for almost three months before I started school. I was a junior in high school  during my first year in an American school. I was excited to meet new people, but nervous because I was all-alone by myself.  After a while, I met a friend. He was also from India and spoke the same language. He was my friend’s cousin and we became really good friends. I trusted him and told my secrets to him, everything in our friendship was going great. We used to have lunch together and hang out often. He used to help me with my homework and take me to after school activities where I would make new friends and get to know more about my new school. He would ask me if I needed help with things. He used to tell me things he was confused about and ask me for my advice. It was a great time. Everything was going great, because I had friends. Finally, it was December and we were all excited for winter break. It should have been the best of times, but  that is when everything changed for me.  One of my friends came and told me that my best friend was spreading stupid things about me. She showed me his texts, and I was devastated. I asked him if he said those things, but he lied to me and said no. I felt so betrayed. He had broken my trust, and I felt so alone. My new reality began to affect my grades, which had never been a problem for me. My grades were going down because I couldn’t concentrate on my studies. When I was dreaming about my life in the United States, a situation like this was never part of that dream.  After some time in a bit of a depression, I met my friend Mustafa. Musta- fa and I were acquaintances before, but not good friends. In the past, we didn’t hang out or talk very much. Until one day we were having lunch and he asked me about some of the problems from the past. He asked me for the truth. I was stunned when he actually believed me! After that, he helped me and taught me many things about friendship. He taught me that people are not always as good as you are and not to trust just anyone. I learned from him that you need to think before you speak.  Finally things had turned around for me, and I was enjoying my high school life once again. It was the end of the school year, and I was ready to start next year as a proud senior and put my junior year behind me. My grades were back on top, and some of my friends were graduating. We celebrated their graduation on a beautiful sunny day during Ramadan, so my friends and I were fasting. Life was good!  The lessons I learned my junior year will stay with me for a lifetime. In high school things spread really fast, whether it’s good or bad. People assume and believe things very easily, without knowing the full truth, and people are not always trying to learn the truth. I was, and still am, struggling to trust people. I used to make friends quickly and easily, but now I think twice before I enter a friendship with people. I am thankful to my new friends for always being there for me and believing me. I learned that, in life, you can- not expect all people to act with the same morals and values as you. I don’t trust people now, like I used to, but I know there are good people out there. Sometimes it just takes a bit to find them. 

© Riha Fatima. 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.