Always First
Yulya Gizzatullina, 16, Ufa



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When I was 11 years old, I had a “best friend”. Her name was Sasha, but I don’t like to remember her name. During that year I began taking part in various contests. I took first place in the first competition. Everything was so great: I had a best girlfriend, and every time I entered a contest, I took first place.

One day I didn't feel good, but I knew that when I got to school my best friend Sasha would help me through a hard time. Just like every day, I found her in the hall, and said, “Hello, best friend.” (We called each other that.)

She didn't say anything. She didn't even say “hello”. She walked away.

I thought that something had happened to Sasha, and everything would be OK. Then I went up to other girls from my class. I couldn't believe it; they didn't talk with me either. I shared my secrets with them but they betrayed me. I asked Igor, a neighbor, “Do you know why the girls are not talking to me?”

Igor was not too happy to talk to me either, but he said, “Julia, I just heard them say something about you thinking you are so good.”

The teacher had found out about this situation. She asked Sasha, “Why are you ignoring Julia?”

Sasha said, “I don't know.” She looked a little sad, but then she went back to a group of girls.

I heard them say, “Julia is stupid and bad; forget about her.”

I started crying. Every thing broke to pieces for me. My teacher took me into a room. I asked her, “Why is my best friend Sasha being so mean?”

“Julia, have you done anything to her?” she asked me.

When I said no, she said, “Sasha may be envious. All the other girls may think you are winning too many contests.”

“Why is that bad?”

“Julia, they want to have your talent to win contests. Perhaps they wonder if you think you are better than they are,” said the teacher.

The next day, several of the boys were friendly, and two girls decided to be friendly and not follow that group of girls.

I had to change friends and find new ones. I still compete in contests and still get first place most of the time.

When I remember this incident, my mind asks, “Why did they do this? What did I do to them, that they didn't love me? I can't forget it.”


I. Understanding the Story
Write down what you think is the main idea.

II. Vocabulary
Choose the word from the following list that is closest in meaning to the word/s in bold in the sentence.
betrayed    secrets    competition    envy    various
1. The girls had a feeling of wanting to have what she had.
2. She usually told her friend the ideas she would not share with others.
3. Julia liked to take part in different events.
4. Her best friend was false to her.
5. Julia did well in every contest.

III. Now you Talk
1. What other reason besides envy might be causing this?
2. Why were the boys nicer than the girls?
3. What kind of group behavior does this story illustrate?
4. What lesson could Julia learn from this?

IV. Now you Write
1. Write a dialogue between Sasha and Julia.
2. Write advice from the teacher to both Sasha and Julia.
3. Write a letter from Julia to Sasha five years later.

V. Role Play
1. The writer and her “best friend” Sasha: They talk the day before the problem.
2. The writer and Sasha: The writer asks Sasha what is wrong.
3. The writer and Igor: He tries to tell her what is wrong.
4. The teacher and Sasha: She asks Sasha why she is betraying Julia.
5. The writer and two new friends: They talk about being good friends.