Everyday Closer to a Better Tomorrow

Katherine teaches her class to ask, 'Can I have?' Everyday I was teaching I felt a full spectrum of emotions. There was the pre-class nervousness about how many students would come or if I could properly execute all the learning objectives in the lesson plans in an effective way. These anxieties would immediately disappear as soon as the students arrived in the classroom and the fun and interactive lessons began, and I would become excited as the students participated and began to have fun. However, classes did not always go according to plan. Quick-thinking to address behavior issues of children too often caused by the stresses associated with living in refugee camps was a daily challenge. However, as the weeks passed, the teaching team—myself, a translator and 2 university-aged volunteers—were more able to recognize and address the psychological needs of the students prior to an individual creating a large disruption for the entire class. The excitement did not settle until after the students had lined up and marched onto the buses to go home.

But the final class I taught was particularly poignant for me. I stood in front of the 8th graders, the translator, Wadee’ and the two volunteers, Ola and Razan, after having returned from a fun outdoor activity. At that moment I realized this was my last chance to stand in front of my students and be with my teaching team. I explained to them how memorable this experience has been for me, and how much I would miss them, how much I looked forward to everyday of class because I would be able to see them. Tears welled up in my eyes as I waited for the words to be translated and understood by the students.

Despite their personal struggles, the students in my classe- whether 5th grader in my afternoon ESL class, university student enrolled in my professional competency class, or grandmother in my women's fitness class- all strove to better themselves. Their strength, endurance and resolve have shown me how to better live my life. They have shared heart-breaking stories of suffering from the most violent and oppressive times of the first and second intifada. And yet they continue to push themselves everyday to do more work than is required of them in hopes for a better future for themselves and their loved ones.

-TYO intern, Katherine