As I drive through UAE’s organized streets, I miss being engulfed by the beautiful mountains and Lebanon’s crazy traffic.
As I step foot into my home, the scene of the refugee camps haunts me and reminds me to always be grateful.
As I’m about to scream at my brothers, I remember my student telling me how much he misses his dead brother.
As I’m about to complain about university, I remember the kids whose chance of a proper education was taken away from them simply for existing.
As my family in UAE surrounds me, I remember my extended family, Jusoor, back in Lebanon.
I started out this experience with only one expectation: to feel good about myself. My expectations were very modest and shallow. Little did I know that I’d grow so attached to my students that the mere thought of them brings me to tears. Little did I know that I’d grow so attached to the volunteers and members of Jusoor that I’ve started to plan my vacations around them.
The kids, my kids, I miss them. I miss entering class every morning to a carol of “???? ????? ?? ??? ?????”. I miss the look of excitement in their eyes when I introduce a new topic or experiment. I miss them whining that they don’t want to do “If you’re happy & you know it” but the minute it starts playing they’re competing to see who can sing loudest. I miss hearing them call out “Ya Miss! Ya Miss!” like a stuck record player. I miss trying to unfold each of their personalities trying to read what they’ve been through. Lastly, I miss being yanked by the neck to be kissed goodbye and being slapped high five my hand turns bright red.
This experience has touched me a lot more than I had anticipated. The students and the circumstances they live in gave me a new perspective at life. During the program, my brain was always turning thinking of what lesson I’m going to teach the next day. What will the children benefit from most? Now, my brain is constantly turning asking myself “what next”? What can I do from seas away that will help these kids as much as they’ve helped me. I left a piece of my heart in Lebanon that’ll for sure drag me back there very soon.