Tall, dressed very formally in a sports-coat and tie every day, and prematurely bald, Mr. K was known to be slightly stern. I didn’t know that, though, because I started school in this country mid-way through the school-year. I was scared stiff walking into his classroom, and all around me there was nothing but white people. My parents promised that the Caucasians in this country were not to be feared, they are friendly, nice, open-minded. I believed them, because that is what we do as children. But I couldn’t believe with all my heart. For the first week, I think he was as scared of me as I was of him. Then, in the next couple of weeks, he would repeatedly ask if I was ok, if I was understanding everything, if I need anything; yet, I could never bring myself to ask him to explain things to me.
He was a very nice man, but I was very glad when I was transferred out of his class. He later left on a medical break, and never came back. My most lasting impression of him is that he and I had a lot in common: we stood out from everybody else in the classroom, and the other kids were as wary of me as they were of him. And he was the only teacher who looked and behaved more like a university professor. A kindly one, but somewhat intimidating at first glance…and first impressions are usually lasting impressions.