I spent a blessed day with the amazing children at the International Community School, a chartered public school with a large number of immigrants and refugees in the student body. It was designed that way; to bring local students together with newcomers; to make the foreign less so; to create a better world. I helped out with Ms. Li's 1st grade class. Among the 18 children in her class today there is an Iraqi Kurd, a Liberian, a Bosnian, an Ivorian, some Somalis, and a few locals. This is a truly special place. There are children of every color, creed and, it seems, country. And they all live and learn together in ways we adults seem to have forgotten.
Tiny, but big mouthed Sabrina, the child of Somali refugees, tosses her head back and cackles, the sunlight sparkling along the row of red sequins at the brow of her shoulder length burgundy hijab, as she spins round and round with the other kids until dizziness overtakes her and she falls over giggling. I ask Nazdan, an Iraqi Kurd who has lived in the US for two of her seven years, in Arabic if she speaks Arabic in addition to Kurdish at home and she rolls her eyes at me and smirks before flopping into my arms for another hug. Late in the day it is these two who beg me to stay and play with them during aftercare.
At the start of the day Ms. Li's class sings a simple song, "Hello, Friend", and end the day with a similar song, "Goodbye, Friend." They sing it first in English, then French, then Spanish, then Chinese, and they are working on Kurdish lyrics.
There are children here who have lived through things most of us cannot imagine. And yet here they are, running, playing, arguing and resolving things together. My new friend Huda, originally from Somalia and a 3rd grade substitute teacher for the day summed it up:
"You want to take a picture of these kids as they are together and show it to all of the adults out there and say 'this is how it's supposed to be!'"
With everything going on in the world, these children really give me hope. It was a really lovely day.