Kelby Sp

This is a funny story. It was the 2nd year in Jubail. We had an influx of 50 TEXANS into our  predominantly Muslim school. Chevron had moved families from Bahrain to north Saudi, the fancy compound known as Murjan. It looks like the Riviera. Some Saudi Prince built it.The Sunni-Shia fight was kicking up in Bahrain so Chevron decided their families were “safer” in Jubail:go figure. But it was true:very few Shia in Saudi, etc

Soooooo these Texan kids came in, yippi-i-o- ki- aye style, dressed for the beach etc.

Meg, our counsellor ,had to come into my Language arts class and give them a stern warning.

She said: Now as you know it is Ramadan, and most students here are fasting.  Some of you American kids dress very liberally and, in “deference” to our Muslim students, please dress more modestly.

Kelby’s head popped up when he heard the word MUSLIM.

In his Houston drawl he said “Uh, r there Muslims in this school?”

I was astonished.

“Yes of course Kelby, there are Muslim in this school. Didn’t you get a clue with the girls’ scarves?(hijab)

Kelby said “Uh, I thought it was just to match their outfit.”

“Ok Kelby, like didn’t you notice that  all of the students around you are fasting… they are NOT eating?”

Kelby said:”Uh, I just thought it was some kind of weird diet!”

Kelby continued, “But y’all can’t be Muslim. Don’t you know Muslims are terrorists?”

“Ok, I said. Put up your hand if you are Muslim.” The whole class put up their hand. “Heck I said, I’ll even put up my hand!”

Kelby looked straight at his new best buddy Satchel (from Pakistan)

“Satchel, uh, are you Muslim?”

Satchel said “Yeah man, I am. Then they ran across to each other in the class, two grade 7 boys and they said “I love you man!”

I stood there, simply amazed. I could NOT  believe this skinny grade 7 Texan boy had no idea what a Muslim was, and yet he sat , played, talked, worked with a whole school of them for 3 weeks.

The next morning I said to his grade 8 buddy Madison:”And then Madison, it was so cute, Kelby said “Are there Muslims here?”
She looked at me, and (spoiler alert), her Dad IS Saudi and her Mom is American, she said ” ARE there Muslims here?”

Image may contain: people smiling, one or more people, people standing and night

Very lovely kids from ISG Jubail.


Oh.My.God. Almighty. I could NOT believe this. Madison, a daughter of a Saudi male , raised in Texas had NO idea her Dad was Muslim. Not a clue. What?

That is how biased, sheltered, narrow an American education is, or was in 2010.

But what a moment! Kelby turned out to be one of my favourite students.

One time he was kicked out of every single class that day. I was just about to kick him out because he couldn’t sit still. I said:

“Before I kick you out Kelby, can you just tell me what’s going on?”

“I’m sick today MIss”. And I drank some lemon tea to help me.

“What lemon tea Kelby”

“You know that Lipton Yellow label tea? (that stuff is pure rocket fuel,loaded with caffeine)

“Uh, how many BAGS did you put in the teapot Kelby?”


Oh my, this kid was HIGH on caffeine. So I thought twice about booting him out. No wonder he was so disruptive in every class.He had the mega-jitters.

“Ok Kelby, you just stay here, and try to breathe. Just have a seat and slow it down”.

That was Kelby.

Satchel was another funny kid. Nice but lazy as could be.

“Satchel, will you do your homework?”

“Yes Mrs Harvey in’shallah!

“Satchel, let’s get one thing straight God is ALWAYS willing, it’s you I’m worried about!!

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