Mr. Rainey wrote the new student's name on the board. "Welcome to Jesus who has just moved here from Mexico. He pronounces his name Hay-sus. He will need some assistance with his English. I trust you all will help him."
Mike whispered, loud enough for everyone around him to hear, "If his name is Jee-zuz, he doesn't need my help." Several kids laughed.
Marty didn't think Mike's comment was funny, but he laughed along, wanting to feel like part of the group. Later, in the hallway, he heard Mike call out to the new boy, "Hey, Jee-zuz, you don't belong in our school." Marty saw the hurt in the boy's eyes, but didn't say anything.
When Marty's grandmother came home from work, she found the boy sitting at the kitchen table, head in his hands. He did not look up when she came in. "My, my," she said, "You look like you are carrying a big burden for a boy. Want to talk about it?"
"Nope," said Marty. "But thanks, Gran."
The next day, Jesus sat alone at lunch. Marty wanted to go sit with him, but didn't want to upset Mike and the other kids. After school, Marty saw Jesus watching their soccer game from the sidelines. He wanted to ask him to play, but didn't.
When Gran came home from work that night, she again found Marty sitting at the kitchen table, head in his hands. "My, my," she said. "Looks like you are carrying a heavy burden for a young man. Want to talk about it?"
"Nope," said Marty. "But thinks, Gran."
The next day, Marty heard Mike say, "Jee-zuz lives with his grandma; and my dad says he's an immigrant."
Marty spoke up. "I live with my grandma."
"Yeah," said Mike, " but you"re normal, like you were born here, and you belong here."
That evening, Gran found Marty once more sitting forlornly at the kitchen table, head in his hands."
"My, my," she said. "You look like you are carrying a man-sized burden tonight."
"Gran," said Marty, "what does immigrant mean?"
Gran laughed. "I can tell you all about that word," she said. "Your great-great grandfather was an immigrant. He was born in the old country, and came to this country as a boy. His name was Micha; and the other boys made fun of his name, calling him Michelle. They made fun of him too because he could not speak English well. But he made friends who helped him, and he learned, and pretty soon he felt at home here. It was hard for him then. It must be a lot easier today."
"I'm not so sure about that Gran," said Marty. "Hey, could you help me look up the Spanish word for 'hello'?"
The following day, Marty saw Jesus at school. "Hola, Jesus," he said, pronouncing the boy's name correctly.
Jesus smiled. "Hola," he said softly.
"I saw you watching our soccer game yesterday. You want me to teach you how to play soccer so you can play with us?"
Jesus looked at Marty. "Gracias," he said. "In my country, soccer is muy importante. I play soccer ... bien ... how you say? ... good?" He then grinned at Marty, and said, "You play soccer ... bad ..."
Marty caught the twinkle in the new boy's eye, and grinned back. "O.K., Jesus, you teach me how you play soccer, and I will teach you to speak English. Is that a plan?"
"Si," said Jesus. "Un plan bueno, a plan good."
"First lesson," said Marty. "In English, you don't say 'plan good,' you say 'good plan.' "
"Good plan!" said Jesus, and the two boys high-fived each other.
Apparently, a high-five needs no translation.
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