by Katherine Reilly
On a beautiful Sunday morning, I drive to an old ordinary building in a suburb of Athens. I exit the car only to hear the sweet voices of children playing outside. As I approach them with books in my arms, one of my students wraps herself around me. Then another and before you know it, all of them surround me as I’m gasping for air while my heart beats with love and joy to see my sweet darlings once again.
“Look at my new dress Ms. Katherine! My mom made it for me!” said Shayma, one of my students.
“Ahmed picked his nose again, Teacher!” yelled another as the children laughed and ran about.
Two more dragged me from my sleeve to their classroom to show me a picture they drew of me with my name next to it… I just had to take a picture of it.
After a lot of hugs and kisses, it was time to start our lesson. It’s as if these kids are on Auto pilot. They start writing words on their notebooks, they sing in English and the activities are endless. They choose one of their favorite books for me to read. I like role playing with them. One of their favorites is The ‘Big Bad Wolf’ from the Three Little Pigs.
During break we sometimes watch cartoons. Classic ones with ‘Bugs Bunny’ or ‘Tom & Jerry’. Sometimes we just dance – one of their favorites… ‘head shoulders knees and toes’.
At the end of the day, they give me their drawings. On each one, they write down new words. They are so proud they learned something new.
After more than a year at the Sunday Migrant School of Athens, I’ve come to realize that ‘I myself’ have become the student and not the teacher. What have I learned? That the human spirit always prevails; that the love for learning and the will to improve oneself never fades away. We are all human beings who have a right to education.
I have found my own family in the Sunday Migrant School – a school which welcomed me with open arms; a school which accepts all citizens of the world, regardless of race, gender or nationality; where all people are equal and everyone has an opportunity to become a better person, be it through love and compassion or just simply knowledge.
Lessons start once again this Sunday. I can’t wait to see my dear colleagues, my students, my friends, my family.
Happy School Year Everyone! This year’s going to be a blast!