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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Asia (02/26/09)

TITLE: Asia - A Memoir
By Karen Heslink


As a fourth grade teacher, I met every personality type God ever created during my twenty-five years of teaching. Many students fade over time, but some really stick out in my memory. So it was with Asia. She was (and I am sure, still is) a beautiful African-American girl who was bright, had an engaging personality, but also could be very sneaky. Big for her age, she was taller than many of the girls and most of the boys. And it was the boys she loved to taunt. It was your typical “tween” love/hate thing going on, I’m sure.

There was the time she took the stapler off my desk, used it, and then put it inside the desk next to her. Later in the day when I was looking for my stapler, it was nowhere to be found. Then Asia piped up and said, “I see it in Harold’s desk.” Poor Herald. The look on his face was devastation itself. He looked at me with big, pleading eyes, and said, “But I didn’t take it. I don’t know how it got in my desk.”

“Well, it’s there isn’t it?” demanded Asia, “So you must have and you just don’t remember!” Now I had rules about taking things off my desk without asking first. So, poor Herald missed recess that day.

That aftenoon I found a note on my desk. Inside were a few short sentences that said, “Asia did it. Not Herald.” And it was signed The Classroom Detective. This wasn’t the first time I suspected Asia of playing tricks on the other children, especially the boys. During the next assignment, I pulled Asia to the back table and quietly showed her the note. She stared for a moment and as tears welled up in her eyes she simply stated, “I always get blamed for everything.” Knowing that she came from a family of seven children while I was the oldest of six, I was able to commiserate with her. I also knew that Asia needed to understand how her behavior would become who she was if she wasn't careful. We had a long talk that day.

As our conversation ended, I looked straight into her eyes and said, “I know Asia. It is hard to always be blamed for everything, but it is also very important to live life with integrity and honesty.” Now she understood honesty, but not integrity. So on that day, we not only had a life lesson, but also a vocabulary lesson.

Eventually, Asia owned up to the fact that she had taken the stapler and put it in Harold’s desk. She apologized to Harold and served out her week of missed recesses making a vocabulary card for each member of the class. The word she put on those cards: integrity

Just after graduation in June eight years later, I got an envelope in the mail. Inside was a very worn out card with the word integrity neatly printed on it. Written on the card were a few simple sentences, “Harold didn’t take it. Asia did. With thanks from you student.” It was signed simply “Asia”.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 03/06/09
Very good story, and well-written. Just a little fix with the "Harold" and "Herald" and it would be A++.
Gregory Kane03/07/09
A charming story, thanks for sharing this reminiscence.
As a general point, the theme for the Challenge this quarter is geographical and therefore entries should refer to one of the nations of Asia.
Why don't you take some time right now and read through a number of the stories that your fellow writers have submitted. It's amazing the variety of subject material in these entries. And you can even leave comments on others' stories to let them know what you appreciated about their writing. God bless.
Karlene Jacobsen03/07/09
Poor Harold... Poor Asia... I'm glad she learned the lessons taught. Well done.