With the 2015 Summer Program coming to an end, I find myself reflecting on the very beginning. I was fortunate enough to volunteer teach with Jusoor at the Kaskas, Beirut Center for the first four days. These four days were short, busy and memorable and I would like to share them with you.
I remember walking into the classroom on the very first day feeling stressed, nervous and simultaneously excited. I was excited to meet the students in order to partner with them to learn and form positive relationships together. However, I was also nervous because I speak very broken Arabic and had predictions this would hinder my ability to successfully lead an engaged classroom. Despite my best efforts, the difference in language and identity did cause frequent and significant disruptions. Jusoor members kindly stepped in to calm the classroom and provide English to Arabic translation. Bumps and rocks were certainly felt over the next couple of days, but progress was being made, class ran smoother and my confidence grew. Before I knew it, it was time to say goodbye to the two classes I was fortunate to come to know. I learned that although discipline and order are necessary for a safe, respectful and functioning classroom, coming up with engaging lesson plans avoids the need to raise your voice or to lecture a classroom. I learned that teaching really does depend on forming relationships. Clear communication, respect, and shared common interests are essential. I felt I began to understand the kids better and even with my limited Arabic, I was able to joke and relate to them. I hope to return to Jusoor again and commit myself for a longer period of time in the near future. Until then, I catch myself thinking back to the classroom with blue walls covered with charming pieces of artwork, to the students who filled the class with life and energy, and to the Jusoor members who showed continuous generosity, kindness and support.
Grace volunteered at Jusoor’s educational centers in Lebanon during July and August as part of the summer volunteer program.