#sol17- April 11, 2017
Saturday morning a group of us met for a coffee before walking over to a nearby “school”. This school was special- it is affiliated with MSRI (Malaysian Social Research Institute)- and houses a school for refugees. Teachers from my school were volunteering to teach workshops to teachers who work with refugees here in Malaysia. The teachers are not professionals, receive little training, and are trying to do their best for their students. Many of the “teachers” are refugees themselves and have aged out of the schools, so are now volunteering to teach. The teachers have expressed that they would love help with lesson planning, classroom management, building routines, and developing community. My friend, E. and I immediately thought of Morning Meeting (thank you Responsive Classroom) as it is how we start each day in our own classrooms. A third teacher wanted to join us and we quickly planned our session.
This Saturday morning we taught our session twice. We worked with just over 20 teachers. We heard stories of their challenges with attention issues, learning issues, kids who are so tired and stressed. Although the students they work with are different from ours, we could readily see so many similarities too. It was great to have time at the end of each session for the teachers to ask us questions and we could brainstorm possible ideas. It felt like a sharing session and I know that I benefitted from hearing their stories and thinking more deeply about my practice.
As we were leaving the second session I caught up with one of the teachers. I recognized her from two years ago when her school used to come to ours one afternoon a month. Her school was for Somali refugees and some of our fifth graders worked with a group of teachers to plan activities for the visitors to help them speak more English. “Yes,” she said, “I used to be at the Fugee school, but I got too old, but my sister is still there.” It is so hard to be a refugee here is what I thought to myself.
Opportunities to volunteer like this is part of why I moved to Southeast Asia- I am at a stage in my life where I have some extra time and I would like to be able to volunteer more regularly. I am glad that there are people at my school who help to keep opportunities like this on my radar so that I can get more involved.
The feedback to the organizers of our Saturday session was good. I am already starting to think about what we can share next. I am feeling grateful that in small ways I can be a part of the community here.
***Unrelated blogposts by slicers in my class who still keep slicing.