When I first arrived at SB Overseas centre in Saida I remember feeling incredibly nervous. I had never really taught before and had no idea what to do with a room of twenty kids, let alone twenty kids who didn’t speak the same language as me. However, one of the senior volunteers quickly reassured me that my lack of experience wouldn’t be a problem. He poignantly emphasized that the most important part of our work here is to show the kids that we care about them, to show them that we want them to succeed.
This is not to say, however, that the work we are doing here is easy. Some evenings I go home feeling utterly exhausted and find myself questioning what I’m even doing in Lebanon. On days when my classes get out-of-hand or when they fail to grasp the main concept of the last lesson I find myself wondering whether anything I teach the kids will actually be useful to them or even whether I’m actually teaching them anything at all. Fortunately, the kids make it impossible to stay discouraged.
Even when I think back to particularly challenging days I am able to recall moments that remind me that our work is appreciated, that our work is worthwhile. Even after lessons can best be described, as ‘disastrous’ there are still students who stay late to practice writing on the board or to ask questions about homework. Whenever we leave the shelter we are always greeted by a chorus of voices calling “Hello Teacher!” and by crowds of students anxious to introduce us to their younger brothers and sisters. Students from my kindergarten class always rush up to show me that they know their numbers and letters and older kids are eager to learn more about the lives of their teachers,
“Teacher! Where are you from?”
“Show me on the map!”
Their hopeful curiosity and desire to learn more about the world shows their desire to plan for their own futures and reinforces the importance of the work SB Overseas does in Saida. These kids deserve to be able to explore future opportunities and by showing them that SB Overseas cares about their futures and that SB Overseas wants to help them succeed in public school we are able remind them that the world has not forgotten about them and that they matter.
Written by Shannon Pruden, volunteer in Lebanon