No Borders Between Friends
Sasha Plotnikova, 15, Kazan



(click on photo to enlarge)



I remember one boy, Batyr, from my school who was different from everyone there. He had some speech problems; sometimes we couldn't understand what he said. He was shy because of this. After a while he quit talking. Some of the kids said he was strange.

None of the children spoke to him. I think they were embarrassed if they didn't know what he said, and didn't like to ask him to repeat or to speak more slowly.

Every time when I saw Batyr, hed be sitting by himself in the back of the class. Nobody befriended him; they would hardly even notice him. He was ignored by all the children of my grade.

One day, I walked to his desk. At first he didnt see me, so I said Hi, Batyr.

Are you talking to me? he said with some kind of shock in his voice.

Yes, I am. What are you doing? That very moment I saw a beautiful picture and he continued drawing. That picture is amazing. It is beautiful! He was very happy to hear such words from me. I don't draw very well, but I appreciate your drawing, I added.

After that day we explored our favorite things. The more I talked with Batyr, the more I understood what he said. When he wasn't nervous, I understood him better. We had common interests. Slowly we became good friends. He didn't seem strange to me anymore.

Two years ago he and his family moved to Israel, because his father, a doctor, signed a contract for work in one of the best hospitals there. My friend is living abroad with his family and is happy there. Nevertheless, we still communicate via email and handwritten letters. He sends me drawings sometimes. There are no borders for real friendship!


I. Understanding the Story
What do you think is the main idea of the story?
1. It is better to ignore people with speech problems.
2. One never knows who will be a good friend.
3. Good friends always move away.

II. Vocabulary
Complete the sentence with the best word.
embarrassed befriend noticed shocked appreciate/d border
1. I was __________________________ when everyone looked at me.
2. When you live in different countries, you are separated by a _________ .
3. I was so surprised, I was _____________________________________ .
4. I decided to sit with him and _______________________________ him.
5. He quit talking so no one even _____________________________ him.
6. I _____________________________ his drawing because it was so good.

III. Now you Talk
1. How do people treat a person with speech problems?
2. Describe a relationship with someone that went across borders.
3. Discuss problems that could be called speech problems.

IV. Now you Write
1. Describe the two characters: The writer and the new friend.
2. Write an email exchange between them.
3. Write about a time when a good friend moved away.

V. Role Play
1. The two new friends: Their first conversation.
2. The two new friends: Their talk about art the next day.
3. Batyr and his mother: He tells her about his new friend.
4. The writer and Batyr: They talk on skype across borders.