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Monday, 15 April 2013

The Foreign Exchange Student

By Dani Ferguson Phillips of The Cataract Club

My daughters attended a small college in Oklahoma. The college was located in a small town in the southeastern part of the state, right smack dab in the middle of the Bible belt.

Now my daughters grew up in the third largest city in Oklahoma and in a very liberal college town. It was always my goal to teach them tolerance and to judge others by their deeds not their ethnicity and to respect all religious beliefs.

I was happy to see them exhibiting all these traits as young college women.

The girls started their college careers living in a co-ed dorm and working as desk clerks in order to offset the expense of school. They quickly realized that they were not living in the liberal university town where they grew up.

Most of the students attending this school were from rural towns where prejudices and intolerance were not only tolerated but encouraged. The girls quickly learned what subjects to avoid in order to fit into college life while realizing just how sheltered they had been from such intolerant views.

Now my daughter Julie is severely dyslexic and has always struggled with reading and spelling. So working as a desk clerk presented challenges. She struggled taking phone messages and checking students in and out but used her outgoing personality to compensate for her disability.

Being a desk clerk provided opportunities to meet all their dorm mates and to establish friendships with many of them. Students would hang out at the desk and visit with the clerks on duty. This is how Julie met her friend Bonnie.

Now, this particular dorm was where all the student athletes lived. Bonnie was on the girls' tennis team and had come to the college on a tennis scholarship. Julie had often seen Bonnie with a particular young man and one day she asked Bonnie if he was her boyfriend.

Bonnie didn't answer immediately but finally responded, "You seem pretty cool, I think it would be okay to tell you." She then took a piece of paper and lightly wrote, "I'm a l e s b i a n" on the paper and slid it in front of Julie.

Julie studied the note for what must have seemed an eternity and then responded innocently, "You're, uhh, Lebanese?"

"Huh?” answered Bonnie, obviously confused.

"Uh, you're from Lebanon?" repeated Julie.

Bonnie leaned closer and whispered slowly and distinctly, "No, I'm a LESBIAN."

Barely glancing up, Julie replied with astonishment, "Ohhhhhhhhhh!" Not sure what to do next she gave Bonnie a little congratulatory punch in the arm and said, "Well, good for you."

Bonnie continued to look at Julie with a look of puzzlement, not sure just what to make of her reaction.

Julie whispered, "I'm dyslexic, Bonnie, and I can't read worth @#$%." Then both girls burst into laughter.

Julie and Bonnie became good friends and whenever Bonnie paid Julie a compliement on how she looked or on a new outfit Julie would tell her, "Coming from you Bonnie, that really means something."

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Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


LOL. Wonderful!

It sounds like you did a good job with your girls.

What a great story and so well written. I love it.

Having had to cope with dyslexia all my life, this is the funniest story I have ever read about someone else plagued with it.

Great story!

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