Wednesday, December 16, 2015

I am in awe.

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.


  1. What a cool kiddo! Definitely awe inspiring. But so is his teacher, who is willing to get to know him, and learn his language, rather than just seeing him as one more kid with extra needs!

  2. What a joy, a kid who understands that education is something to be taken with both hands, and then shared out. Long live the learner.

  3. I love that you see this as an enrichment and not an interruption. What a beautiful thing you are showing to your class.

  4. Oh, your words are beautiful and so is your heart. I just emailed this to the staff at my school. Your words inspire me and warm my heart.

  5. I can see the spark in your eye with this post. This boy is blessed as well. He has a teacher who sees him and accepts who he is with love.

  6. Great post. I'm going to share this with my kids.

  7. Anonymous10:20 AM

    The learning always goes both ways. Thank you for this.

  8. Anonymous10:22 AM

    Absolutely would love this opportunity!! What a great experience for everyone!!

  9. This is what should be on the front page of every newspaper!! Your heart is huge and thanks for sharing

  10. My heart is beaming. I want to print this post and carry your words with me throughout the day. Thank you Mary Lee!


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