A sonorous gong echoes throughout the room calling attention to the students. The music instructor begins the lesson by showing us how to sing the song “Fifty Nifty United States” which will help us remember the names for our upcoming geography test. We laughed at this catchy tune and started talking among ourselves which prompted another mallet to the gong from the instructor. “Time to learn a few notes on the recorder!” the elderly man with ruddy cheeks enthusiastically yelled out.
It was fifth grade, and I was ten years old. One of the results of redistricting of the city was that my brother and I had to transfer to another school at the beginning of the year. We were both very sad. My brother had say good bye to one of his Korean friends which he attempted to keep up with as a pen pal. My class wrote me a series of creative letters on construction paper (which I still have till this day) wishing me good luck at my new school.
It’s not always easy being the “new kid” on the block, but I looked at my new surroundings impressed by the indoor fountain and a grassy field that was at least four times larger than the one at my old elementary school. I thought to myself, “Maybe this isn’t going to be so bad.”
The reading teacher, a prim, gentle woman with straight hair properly trimmed right past her shoulders, let us out for recess. While the other kids grabbed the balls to play four square and basketball, I decided to sit underneath a tree at the bottom of the hill. There was another girl a few yards away nearby staring off at the clouds in the sky.
Suddenly, a crew of four girls showed up and the ring leader called out, “Hey! Come here! I got a surprise for you!” I walked up to her, and she handed me a series of soft round brown balls. “It’s chocolate! I want you to eat it!”
I walked back to my seat as the girls ran off to play four square. I looked at the balls suspiciously, “What is it?” The girl who was once a few yards away staring at the clouds was now sitting next to me on the bench underneath the tree.
The girl quietly laughed, “It’s dirt molded by water or spit.” I dropped the balls as she introduced herself, “Hey, my name is Cassandra.” She had short black hair, and a look of pure determination. She told me she wanted to be a nun someday.
I stuck really close by her for the rest of the year figuring it was smart to create an alliance with someone who knew her way around the place. That made my transition a little bit easier, and we became good friends as we continued talking about how our days went in the shade underneath that glorious tree.