It’s hard to imagine that people can get very close in the span of just two weeks. Yet, I have settled into a routine and way of life here that is going to be beyond difficult to leave behind. At this point, I am conditioned to expect the hugs and kisses from our students every morning before we start class. It is now easy to tell the dynamic of the class as a whole while still understanding the individual personalities of every student. Having spent two weeks with many of my students last year, as well as the two weeks here, I feel so invested in their lives and their futures that it’s hard to believe that I will leave them when tomorrow comes. This class has become my world for two whole weeks, making it easy to fall in love with them and learn a great deal about them. Each and every student and member of MCAS is important to me, making up a class and a group that is already a small family.
One of the people that I admire most and who constantly amazes me is the director here in Morocco, Ali. He does most of his work quietly and without complaining, so it can be difficult to notice just how much he actually does at times. Ali coordinates so many things including aspects of the classrooms we teach in, all of the home visits, excursions, and more. Yet, when he is around us, he is nothing but smiles and support for what we’re doing. Since most of the work that he does is behind the scenes, I can’t always see the extents that he goes to in order to help make sure everything runs as smoothly as possible. Having grown up in similar situations to the children at Abde Salan Sayah School, he feels an unbreakable connection to them. Ali will work tirelessly to ensure that the students at the school get the most that they can out of this experience. As with the actions of many Moroccan people, the work that Ali does and his drive to help the children at Abde Salan Sayah are both admirable and subtly beautiful.
As our group continued to do home visits this week, I visited the home of Aya and Kawtar who are twins. Though neither girl is in my class, they seemed extremely excited for us to come into their home and meet their family. Their father and mother greeted us with kind smiles and many words of welcome. From the moment we met the parents, it was clear how proud they were of their two daughters. Both mother and father kept showing us pictures and videos of the girls while discussing their many accomplishments. Aya and Kawtar’s father had a job with United Nations and was able to speak English most of the time we were there. It was very interesting because each member of the family was full of questions about America, Children’s Global Alliance, our education, and why we were teaching. We answered any questions they had and even talked about what the two girls would do in the future. The entire family was so inquisitive and so full of humor, I found myself being reminded of my own family. Their family was so amazing, it was obvious how much they loved their daughters and I was extremely lucky to have met them.
Soon after, I had another home visit with one of my most quiet yet sweet students, Chaymae. She greeted us outside along with her best friend, Aya, who is also in my class. It came as no surprise that they wanted to experience a home visit together since the two are inseparable in class. Chaymae led us into her grandparents’ house where we were introduced to her mother and baby sister. After discussing the timidness of Chaymae and the challenges that might pose, I assured her mother that Chaymae was extremely intelligent and had a huge mind. The conversation took a turn when we began talking about family and mentioned Chaymae’s father. As soon as he was brought up, Chaymae’s mother seemed to become slightly more closed off. She explained that their marriage had been arranged and that Chaymae’s father was a very severe and narrow-minded man who was gone often. Though many things remained unsaid, we learned that Chaymae, her little sister, and her mother often lived in the grandparents’ house instead of their own home. Chaymae explained that family was very important to her because aunts, uncles, and cousins often visit the home for family get-togethers. The longer we sat in the home, the more I realized how similar Chaymae and her mother were in their mannerisms and tendencies. Even their personalities were very similar with both mother and daughter being very soft spoken and kind. The experience with Chaymae’s family was unlike any other home visit I’ve gone on and it gave me insight into the friendship of my two students. It made me realize that Aya in Chaymae will help each other in school while also supporting one another through any struggles that may come in life. Their friendship is extremely strong, and it makes me happy to see that they are such a good support system for one another.
With every home visit comes a completely new and unexpected experience. After every home visit, I walk out with an absolutely new perspective and it’s almost as though a tiny string has been drawn between me and the children. Especially in the cases like Chaymae where an unexpected aspect of the student’s life is revealed, there is an added connection that is unmistakably strong. Such a connection can only really emerge when these students invite us into their homes, treat us as family, and give us a glimpse into a side of their lives that we wouldn’t see otherwise.
Through the week in class, we continued to have the students learn lessons while also creating their books. I’m so impressed by their creativity and determination while writing their stories. Each and every book is different and every story seems to reflect the individual personalities of the students. Some of the more serious children like Fatima Zahara, Malak, Chaymae, and Aya wrote stories about their lives or about the lives of other people. Amina is extremely smart and wrote her story about going to a museum in London. Other students that are silly and funny have written stories about animals on adventures, ghosts, movies, princesses, and even one about a golden fish. It amazes me how their books have turned out as the students had to use their English skills along with a high level of imagination. When I announce that the children have time in class to work on their stories, they cheer and quickly pull out their books. When I first came up with the idea to create books in class, I never thought that the kids would be so excited or that they would work so hard to make them perfect. Soon the kids will present what they have made; culminating all the hard work they’ve done over the past two weeks.
Now, the final day looms ahead of me and I can hardly believe how fast the experience passed by. It’s heartbreaking when the students in my class ask when I’ll be coming back next year and I have to tell them that I won’t be able to teach them again. Parting with them seems almost impossible because the time spent with the different students over the past few years has allowed me to develop an all-encompassing love for them. It feels like I’ve watched some of them grow in both English and as humans. Even those who I met just this year have imprinted themselves in my mind and soul. It may seem impossible to let my students go at this time, but I have done it before and I know that saying goodbye is inevitable. When we finally part ways, both the kids and I will have to continue on, changed by each other. MCAS and Abde Salan Sayah is my home, with the kids and staff offering enough love to last a lifetime.