Back To School, Back To Being The 'Only' One

NPR icon by Kat Chow
A A
Cristian Baitg

In August, we asked folks to share stories from moments when they've been the odd person out, the only one of their kind. We wanted to hear the uproariously funny and poignant stories that stuck in people's memories. And many of the memories that were shared came from the classroom. Below, you'll find some of our favorites — enjoy.

Rebecca Eng from Edinburgh:

"I was often pulled into photographs of school events, in order to advertise their ethnic diversity. I also got the benefit of always getting to be 'Scary Spice' in our playground dance routines — obviously being Chinese was equivalent to being black, in terms of being an ethnic minority."

Shika Simpson from Chicago:

"My favorite story of being 'the only' happened in my Geometry class. It was like any other Tuesday...except that was the day the verdict in the O.J. Simpson trial was to be announced. Students who were at lunch or on free periods hustled into empty classrooms to watch on tv, but those who were stuck in class had to miss out. A kid in my class, we'll call him 'A' told our teacher that he was on medication and needed to step out to take it. She let him go and he returned about 5 minutes later. As soon as he took his seat she asked 'So A, whats the verdict?' A was a little dumbfounded that she had seen through his 'brilliant' plan and told the class that O.J. had been acquitted. Two things happened: the white girls in my class all started crying, as if they believed someone had called open season on their lives. All the boys were ELATED and high-fiving each other because, in this case at least, being a football hero trumped race. Me? I was just uncomfortable. It was the first time that I really FELT like I was the odd man out. Everyone wanted a reaction from me, due to my being one of their few representative of blackness, and I didn't really have one. I was 15 and the O.J. trial was just this thing on the news that people kept talking about. I had never been more relieved for a teacher to interrupt a ruckus and direct everyone back to their seats.

As an adult, I look back on this as a absolutely hilarious little moment in my adolescence but at the time it was pretty heavy."

Students participating in PBS News Hour's Student Reporting Labs put together this video after #Iwastheonly rolled out on Twitter. The team interviewed Noreen Nasir, who shared her #Iwastheonly experience about being the lone person to wear a hijab at her middle and high school.

(The video was shot by the students at Free Spirit Media in Chicago, Ill., and edited by Thaisi Da Silva.)

As the school year once again gets under way, we're wondering: What are your new #Iwastheonly stories?

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Share

Tags