His parents must have come over in the sixties or seventies, somewhere from North Africa. Not an easy decision, give up everything and go to a cold country in the north of europe, to do the jobs that the locals won't do. Still, they wanted the best for their children, so they came here. So he was born and bred here, but raised as if he was born in their natice country. Caught between two cultures, as so many of the children of the guest workers.
In his case, I doubt if he really feels it this way. He has led an easy life up until now. Whereas his sister has a job, next to school, he doesn't have to. He is the boy, the son of the house, he gets a bit spoiled. He always has a friendly smile, sometimes seemed a bit slow, but what can you expect at this level. If he had been bright, I wouldn't have had him in my class.
At some point I tried to explain the difference between concrete and abstract markets. Asked the class for examples of concrete markets, something everyone will be familiar with. An abstract market was much more complicated. Minutes into my explanation and examples, he suddenly found an example of another concrete market. By then I realised he is not just a bit slow. From that moment on I have tried to find evidence for the fact that he is not completely stupid. I'm still looking. By now my image of him is a completely empty head. I've had plenty of children in my class who aren't very brihgt, even some who are borderline mentally disabled. Still, I never actually pictured it as clearly as I do with him. I just can't imagine that there is anything behind his eyes. I've got this image of complete emptyness. Should someone crack his skull, he must be a miracle. I'm amazed he finds his way into school sometimes. Had he not been such a nice person, one could have easily made fun of him, now everyone is just feeling sorry.
The worst thing is, he doesn't realise. In an easy assignment I gave them some months back, I asked them to write some things about themselves. What are your strong points, your weak points, how does your future look, things like that. He had big plans for the future. He even posed for a picture to make the assignment look nice. I gave him a reasonable grade, ignoring the fact that not one sentence was without spelling mistakes. Had I been honest, he would have scored extremely low.
Soon he will leave us. He found out that the leisure industry is not his cup of tea, is considering retail now. I wish him good luck, I really hope it will work for him, but I can't imagine anybody hiring him. I hope he'll prove me wrong.