How does one begin talking about the very thing that they can’t imagine living without?
I can’t live without the faith of kids. Their childlike faith. Their zeal for life. It inspires me. I need to love and support kids while I’m alive. It keeps me going. I can’t live without pouring into them and helping them see the light when they absolutely can’t.
Because, quite frankly I remember wanting to belong, looking for home, the same way a student might at some point in their life. Feeling empty. Worthless. Unloved. Betrayed. Confused. All the feelings that render you a sufferer. I wanted to let these young refugees know that their circumstances don’t define them, because I would have wanted someone lifting me out of the dark when I couldn’t do it myself.
And I got that. I had family, friends, and God right there with me. So how could I go on in life not giving back to the world the same way I received?
I spent 4 weeks with little bundles of joy, teaching them the language I’m most comfortable with and being taught by them the language that I am least comfortable with (my own mother tongue unfortunately). I don’t know how to describe the feeling.
I saw light in this place. This school, these classrooms that we prayed for and sang over. Light in my beautiful students. Honestly, they didn’t need me. They were happy little campers as if the world would keep turning and not a single thing was wrong with it. But I know when they get older they’ll realize life is complicated. The same way I did.
They’ll reach a point in time where their childhood breaks off like a robot dispatching itself from a steel part when it needs to morph into a new being, namely an adult in this case. They’ll reach a point when they realize there’s a lot of unlearning that needs to be done, and a lot of damage that needs to be healed. And I need them to remember that people will not always disappoint them. People will not always hurt them the way they once did.
That sure, life’s not always fair, and you will sometimes get the shorter end of the stick, but I wanted them to remember that people still care. People still love. People still will fly miles out in order to spend a summer with them because they are so worth it.
We spent the days colouring English worksheets. We spent time laughing and singing. We got to know each other. Some of my students who sat with their arms crossed and lips curled in, refusing to participate the first three days ended up being the loudest, most excited, hilarious students by the end. They brought so much joy, that they even didn’t know was in them.
The little girls and I would have pretend-tea-parties on the playground when it was recess. We’d pretend to be our parents gossiping while sipping on tea, yet I would feel led to remind them that there is more fun in life when we choose to talk about other things instead, like our favourite fruits, or our favourite activities. And they would agree, you could see it in the way they’d start discussing the little things.
My little boys would be competitive in the classroom, screaming the answers in English and yet making jokes after.
I won’t lie though it was tough. Attention spans are short. Chaos is the norm. Sharing crayons is an art to be learned. Eating what was the only option, was not an option for some. It was interesting, to say the least.
Dealing with that while having a bad flu, also, was not ideal but I mean welcome to teaching?
Now all of that doesn’t matter when I remember the outcome, like when the pain of birth is forgettable once you hold the child in your arms (or so I’ve heard):
We gave the kiddos room to be themselves for a couple of hours, away from poverty, away from conflict, away from the reality that life used to be better for some of them. They were able to hang out in a classroom instead of the streets so that we got the opportunity to place a pencil in their hand, whereas ISIS might have placed a gun instead.
I can’t help but think how God does the same for us. He brings us away from our issues when we step into His presence and remember that there is good in this world. We can choose to hold onto truth and light when the world wants to put misery and injustice in our hand.
I only hope we helped the kiddos see that there is beauty in the darkness, and that they carry the light to reveal this beauty. I hope they realize the war may have made them lose a lot, and that there’s no turning back yet it’s purely a good thing. I hope they found hope in being in school for a month. I hope they found God in the midst of the chaos.
I hope they got to know that the people of the West are not what our governments are. I hope their identity is placed in the fact that they are children of a loving God, and that all of us are indeed, no matter our race, sex, religion, etc… and not in the fact that they are refugees.
I hope they got to see someone as broken as me lead by example. That by remembering a Middle Eastern-Westerner who got out of the war of her time in Iraq, their perspective would feel a constant pull to redirect itself.
Redirect itself to hope. Redirect itself to a future of faith. A future full of gratitude.
If I got out of a similar situation as an immigrant and learned fluent English despite the struggles and am now equipped to make a difference, they can too.
I pray I get the opportunity to go back and make a difference like this for the rest of my life.
Check out the next post where I share videos and pictures of the teaching part of Jordan!
Thanks for reading this one ❤