Maria Jose Pachon, Colombia
Since the past few days I go out of the bus at 9 am to meet 31 students that run into the small school of Jarrahieye with excitement. Since I do not speak Arabic, it has been a little bit difficult to interact with the kids but we have used smiles as universal language. Every day I arrive with my smile and I see other 31 enormous smiles, all of them are sitting in their desks waiting to see which art and science project we are going to do.
I start the days with peace building activities. At the beginning I tried really complicated activities to teach respect, solidarity and peace. However, with the days my lessons plan changed to be really simple group activities that force the students to interact and communicate. The first classes were constant fights because they did not want to share a glue stick or colors. Today, I saw them taking turns to use the glue and helping their neighbour with the activities.
My students are not so quiet, I mean all kids from 6 to 8 are hyperactive. They run in the class and my co-teacher tries to keep them sitting but it is impossible. All of them want to show me their work, they are always so proud of their papers. I love to ask them what their drawings mean but the answer is always in Arabic. My teacher translates what they say, but sometimes it is not necessary because their shining eyes and smiles say everything to me.
This experience in Lebanon has taught me so far that race gender and religion do not determine anything in this world. What really does is our capacity to smile and these kids smile for me everyday.