Be Better than They Think You Are
Altana Dorzhieva, 15, Elista



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Natasha, Julia and Alicia are best friends. They were born and lived in the country. The three families happened to decide to move from the country to the city at the same time. That meant that the girls would be going to school in the city. On the first day, they were nervous, but Natasha said, “Don’t worry. At least we are together.”

Math was their first class. The teacher introduced them, “These are our new students: Natasha, Julia and Alicia. Let’s welcome them to our school.” After the teacher’s words, the students didn’t welcome them but whispered and some girls giggled.

During the break the three girls went to the cafeteria. They heard one of their new classmates say, “They are so weird. Look at them, what awful rags they wear, they are so old-fashioned.”

“You’re right. Maybe teens in the country don’t know about fashion.”

These words hurt the girls. Since that moment they were really disappointed with their classmates and with all students in the school.

A month later, the three girls were walking home and passed a group of boys. They were very “cool” boys and one of them, Valentin, was the most handsome boy in the school. All the girls wanted to be his girlfriend. He was interested in Alicia but she didn’t pay attention to him. Alicia’s behavior surprised him, because all the girls usually smiled at him, trying to attract his attention.

Alicia didn’t even look at him. “Why don’t you smile at Valentin?” asked Julia.

“I thought you said you like him the best of all the boys. It is obvious that he likes you,” said Natasha.

“I am afraid that he doesn’t like me. Anyway, I am too shy.”

The next week Valentin saw her in the hall. He said, “Hello, I am Valentin. I heard you moved here recently. Would you care to go for a walk with me?”

She was surprised but happy. After that they started to go out with each other. Julia and Natasha were happy for Alicia. When the other students heard about their relationship, they were shocked. “The coolest boy in the school goes out with a girl from the country!” said one girl.

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“I can’t believe it,” said another.

But Alicia and Valentin didn’t pay attention to them. One day Alicia asked Valentin, “Why did you like me?”

“Because you’re special. You’re different. You’re not like those foolish dolls. You didn’t try to attract my attention. You’re real.”

“But other students don’t think so. They don’t like me and my friends. They think we’re strange,” said Alicia.

“Oh Alicia, don’t pay attention to them. Be better than they think you are.

After these words Alicia was even happier. Valentin helped her to understand that she and her friends were not that different from the others, and certainly not less valuable. Communication started and little by little they all realized any differences were not important and that they all deserved respect. Alicia, Julia and Natasha were thankful that Valentin was such a good friend.


I. Understanding the Story
Discuss this story’s main idea with a partner.

II. Vocabulary
With a partner, explain what these words mean.
1. whisper
2. giggle
4. rags
5. old-fashioned
6. behavior
7. shocked

III. Now you Talk
1. Talk about a time when you saw students treat others with disrespect.
2. How is Valentin different from the other kids in his group?
3. Why do the three girls feel so disappointed in the school in the first month?

IV. Now you Write
Write a summary of the story.

V. Grammar Practice
Turn each of the following statements into question. Example:
They moved to town. Did they move into town?
1. They were welcomed by the teacher.
2. The girls were whispering.
3. They thought that their clothes were old-fashioned.
4. “Country teens don't know about fashion.”
5. Alicia and Valentin did not pay attention to the talk.

VI. Role Play
1. Julia, Natasha, and Alicia: They talk about moving to the city.
2. Julia and her mother: They discuss the students’ disrespect.
3. Natasha and Alicia: They talk about Valentin.
4. Alicia and Valentin: They talk about the girls’ problem in school.
5. Two teachers: They discuss creating a better atmosphere in the school.
6. Valentin and two “doll” girls: They disagree about Alicia.