I have a new student. His family has been in the country since November. On his second day in our class, he started teaching me Arabic.
A little with our alphabet, then a little with his.
On the way to the bus at dismissal, we traded words: bus, car, the numbers on the buses.
That was day two.
Yesterday, he taught me manners -- how to say please and thank you.
This morning, he heard us sing happy birthday in six languages to a classmate. He was able to play the multiplication game with me and Google Translate by his side. He practices listening to sounds and spelling simple words with an app on the iPad, followed by a break to play a video game online. I say "10 minutes iPad, 10 minutes video game." He says, with a mischievous smile, "15 minutes video game." I say "15 minutes iPad," and he says, "20 minutes video game!"
This afternoon, he told me, "You America (hand over heart). Me Iraq..." and then he sang me the Iraqi national anthem all the way to the bus. Before he boarded, he told me, "YouTube -- Matahni (spelling is mine) -- you go." So I did, and there it was (Mwtini).
This is a kid with spunk. This is a kid with grit and perseverance. This is a kid who is not going to let school be done to him -- we will work together and there will be learning on both sides. He will see to that. I'm sure he won't let a day go by for the rest of the year that he doesn't teach me something. He already knows that education isn't a one-way street, from the teacher to the student. He knows he has power. His native language gives him power, his ability to learn gives him power, his willingness to collaborate gives him power.
I am in awe of this young man, and thankful that his boat washed up on my shore.