Well. What can I say, I lied.
Girls on tour “Schönes Wochenende Ticket” my arse, I have not left Koblenz this weekend. In fact I have hardly left the house. Instead, we have spent the last two days laying in heaps of duvets in our PJs with unlimited supplies of chocolate and wine. It was magnificent and a lovely way to unwind from all the travelling and say goodbye to each other. Mean Girls, Zoolander, Friends, Pitch Perfect, 21 Jump Street and many more feel-good films later, I am feeling very cheerful, albeit much weightier… Diet starts tomorrow, right?
My nails are drying and my facemask is on in prep for my last week at school. Out of nowhere the skin Gods have decided to brandish me with an off point, shiny, red, bindhi spot especially for my end of placement photos and videos which I wanted to take. Why oh why, what did I dooooo, I have a good heart. Typical really isn’t it, though I say “out of nowhere” and I’m the one who just spent the weekend as a slug eating rubbish, so I guess that’s probably why actually, oops. (Totally worth it).
Tomorrow is my last day volunteering at the refugee camp as well. Last week I played with two little girls who were very, very sweet. I also did a puzzle with their older brother which was in all seriousness, difficult. Have you ever tried to put Europe together out of hundreds of little pieces? Shortly afterwards their mother came along, I know she was their mother because she was tapping them and then herself whilst looking at me saying, “mama.” When I asked her what her name was in Arabic her eyes doubled in size, I have got used to this because they go back to normal after I shake my head and hold up my fingers to say, “no, just a liiittle bit.”
I cannot speak Arabic, if I could, I would have had a much easier time at school teaching my refugee pupils, but probably not as much fun miming – I am now a budding actress you see. Social norms do not exist when there is no language in common and in all honesty, I much prefer it. I find it much more fun pretending to cry or be upset when my pupils won’t stop talking or listen to me. My horrific acting makes us laugh and cheers us up if we’re having a bad day. How though, do you cheer someone up with hand signals or facial expressions when they try to explain to you that they came to Germany alone with their three children because their husband was shot in Syria? Wait, it gets worse. My non existent understanding of Arabic meant that I couldn’t understand what she was saying about her husband, so to help me, one of her little daughters went, “BOOM BOOM,” with her hands clasped tight to her face in a gun shape. “Oh,” I thought, “oh.”
Not entirely sure whether I was more shocked by the information or the way it was delivered. I hope this doesn’t sound horrible but this has become fairly usual now. It is not uncommon for a refugee pupil to explain something like this about their past, nevertheless, that does not want to say that it makes it easier to hear at any point down the line. All you can really do is make the best out of a bad situation and keep going.
Bewildering isn’t it, our fortune.
It’s even more bewildering switching to and from school life to refugee life to my life. I have learnt a lot from it, including that this teaching thing, is a two way street. Plans are to make the most of my last week here and attempt to fill my pupils and refugee pals with all the happiness I can before I leave, what else is there left to do after all.
P.S. The answer is give them a hug, a hand to hold, or a shoulder to cry on.
Photo taken in Koblenz, Germany, February 2016.