By: Amna AbuSamhadana (YES 2018 – 2019, Gaza, hosted by World Link in Lubbock, TX)
As any other exchange student who joined a high school in America, it wasn’t easy from the beginning, thinking of what classes should you take, who to sit with at lunch, and how to catch up if you arrived to your host school two weeks after classes began.
I wanted to study Anatomy, which is one of my favorite subjects. Unfortunately, the class was full, and I still needed to take a science course, so I chose AP Chemistry. Back home, I used to get straight A’s and rarely got low scores on tests or quizzes. But in my very first class in AP Chemistry, the teacher gave us a pop quiz. I was so quiet she probably didn’t see a new student...
First quiz: 1 out of 4. I failed.
Second quiz: 0 out of 4. I started giving up;
Third quiz: 2 out of 4; I gave up…
I told my host dad what happened, and asked if I could change my class schedule. He told me to work hard instead, but that it was my decision to make. I took his advice, and studied with every resource available to me for the first test, but I got 50 and the passing grade is a 70. By that point, I really wanted to change classes, but my American dad told me to talk to my chemistry teacher first.
When my host father and I went to talk to the teacher, she welcomed us warmly and asked us to talk about my struggles. I told her about how I found the class hard and how my friends back home told me not to take AP classes, but I did anyway. She told me I have two options: stick with the class and work harder, or drop the class to pre-AP instead. So I didn’t change classes.
I did my best for the second exam, and came close to passing with a 65. I was the last person to leave class during the exam. I tried to use every second of class to check my answers before submitting the exam. I studied for so long, and it still didn’t work. I cried because I felt like I couldn’t make it. My chemistry teacher saw me, and asked me to come after school that day.
She reviewed everything I missed, gave me resources made for foreign students, and taught me strategies for how to answer each question. My teacher told me to never give up. The third exam wasn’t far away, I took it and got a 75! From that point, I started doing much better. I began to take her advice and ask more questions. I ended up getting an “A-“ in the college course and an “A” in the high school course thanks to her.