Being a foreigner can often be a trying predicament for anyone, as I later came to learn. I had just completed my college education in my mother country, Brazil, where I managed to secure the top score in the final exams. This enabled me to secure a scholarship in a prestigious university in the United States. I had done well in the previous college, both in terms of academics and other social relations, and expected nothing out of the ordinary in my new institution.
The first day in class was normal. Many of the lecturers simply made introductions and read the university rules concerning the numerous assignments that we were due to undertake. Being a little shy, I did not make many acquaintances and simply stayed engrossed to my work. However, during the following days, things changed. First, I noticed fellow students giggled at the way I spoke whenever I answered a question.
Initially, I did not understand why, but my des mate was kind enough to let me know that my ascent was different. Since then, I refrained from answering any question unless forced to do so for the fear of being the laughing stock of the class. My new attitude became a habit. I spoke less, and whenever a heated argument arose, I would always give in even when I knew I had better argument than my opponent. I always felt inferior.
One afternoon, the lecturer of a mathematical unit returned the continuous assessment results and commented on how disappointing the results were. We all shrank in our seats in embarrassment until he said only one student had scored full marks. Heads began to turn with everyone looking at the top student of the class. Just then the lecturer called out my name. At first, I was hesitant but when he called it the second time, I was sure I heard him. He requested me to take the class through the revision of all the questions on the whiteboard.
Everyone watched in awe as I explained each and every step in my heavy ascent. Right from that moment, not a single person laughed at my ascent. In fact, they all wanted to be associated with me. They had learnt that physical difference should never be the reference point.