Patience Gbedema, an immigrant girl from Ghana, learned an important lesson from her father when students made fun of her and her accent. She recounts her story in The Courage of Boston’s Children, as part of the Max Warburg Courage Curriculum’s “Courage in My Life” sixth grade language arts and character development curriculum used in Boston schools. Gbedema explains:
To have the courage is to have the spirit that enables you to face danger or fear. Courage is also a sudden or unexpected change or shift that one might encounter in one”s life. One day, in my English Language Arts class, we were reading a book entitled, Ziggy and the Black Dinosaurs. My English teacher asked a student to read two paragraphs from the first chapter on the first page. After the student read, the teacher pointed at me to read aloud to the class. All eyes were on me when the teacher asked me to read because, as a new student from Ghana, my Ghanaian accent is fairly strong. Some students laughed at me. I began to cry, and then the teacher asked me to stop crying and I did. When I arrived home from school, I explained to my dad what had happened. He said, “Empty barrels make the most noise.’ This adage means that students who make bad grades in class are the fondest of making fun of other students. My dad advised me to ignore students who make fun of me in class. There is fear when it is your first time doing something or facing the crowd, but I left fear behind me and moved on. I thought about the advice my dad gave me and I decided to participate in everything in class, even if other students make fun of me. The next day, in the same class, the teacher asked if any student wanted to read. I raised my hand and told the teacher that I wanted to read. Everybody stared at me, astonished, as I read. This time, nobody laughed. I felt good, because I had the courage to face my fear and read aloud to the classmates who had laughed at me before. When I arrived home that day, I told my dad what happened in my English Language Arts class, and he was so proud of me for having the courage to face my fear of reading.