And the pieces begin falling into place
Being in my last week teaching, caring for and loving my 90 little students at IBNY is a bittersweet feeling. The end and the good byes are creeping up quicker and quicker everyday which breaks my heart, but then little things happen at school, be it small accomplishments with learning a whole new letter of the alphabet, one of the children coming out of his shell to dance, stomp and sing with us because he’s fully comfortable, or simply being greeted every class with a unified GOOD MORNING and a sea of smiles, and any sadness I’ve had escapes me.
In my final days, though, it’s been harder to forget how sad I am to leave them. But like clock work, just when I start feeling upset about it something small but meaningful happens to make me realize how much we have accomplished with them, and how far we have come from day one. And seeing that we have made their lives better, even if for just a month, makes coming here, falling in love with each child and then having to leave them come Saturday morning worth any sadness.
And yesterday when everything from this month seemed to be fitting together perfectly I couldn’t help but think of one of my favorite Sex and the City quotes :
“Eventually all the pieces fall into place… until then, laugh at the confusion, live for the moment, and know that everything happens for a reason.”
We’ve had too many times where amdist the chaos and confusion of 90 young children all we could do was laugh. But we made the best of it and kept pushing through, and now I see that the pieces do fall into place in time. And for me this happened yesterday.
When we were leaving school all of the kids were outside playing on the playground (really just a big slab of pavement), and usually they run and jump to us and yell good bye, etc. But this time I saw one of my 3 year olds just crying his eyes out because one of the other kids stole his toys. With an older brother who convinced me that gum in my hair was a good idea, I could commiserate with the little boy. So I went over to check on him quickly before we left. I got down and put my arms out for a hug and wiped his tears off. He hugged me back and gripped me so tightly you could tell he just needed that attention.
Then I started singing twinkle twinkle little star to him, and by the “Like a diamond in the sky” verse, he had stopped crying and started smiling. He gave me a huge hug, kissed me on the cheek and then went off to run around with his friends again. Such a little moment for me, but seeing how even a simple hug and expression of love can help these children touched my heart more than anything thus far in my Moroccan journey.
And yesterday was also the first day I really noticed progress from my first day, and I can honestly say I was more proud of these kids than I ever thought I would be – just thinking about it gives me such an aura of happiness. The first instance of accomplishment was with the 4 year olds yesterday. I was teaching them the numbers 1-16 and usually they need help just remembering 1-10, so we went over and over those, and then I stopped to hear just the kids say them. Guess what? They did the WHOLE 1-10 on their own, no problems, loud and confident. I couldn’t believe it. Then when we had them repeat 11-16 about half the class knew it, which is more than I can say about them when I got there.
My next instance of amazement was in the 5 year old class. These kids are preparing for a final performance of the school year where organizations come to watch and if they perform well enough the IBNY school gets monetary donations, so basically this is the most important event of the year. One of the smartest girls, Hind, is going to be introducing the class’ performace of “If you love our world clap your hands” (a song one of the previous volunteers developed for them). She is inroducing with a 7 line greeting all in English.
I have been working with her on it for three weeks and it’s taken some time to get her to learn. But yesterday was different, she had been practicing. I came into class and she called me over “Stef-nee, Stef-nee” and recited the whole thing for me in my ear. I was stunned, elated and then just simply overcome with pride for her accomplishment. We had her recite it in front of the class before they practiced their song and she did it perfectly.
Although these all sound like little things, small happenings in a day to day school environment, to me they are markers of success, indications of how far we have come with these kids and tokens of hope for the future of each of my wonderful, adorable and intelligent students.