The end of the year was marked by conflicts in our our school. German and Syrian students got into swearing, fights, police stepped in…
It was the German pupils and their parents who brought the charges. They claimed the guilty party to be the Syrian students, who injured a German female student in the school. According to the story, the latter was trying to defend her boyfriend from the Syrians.
On the surface, the fight resulted from one-sided or mutual hatred… However, the police found out it was something else too – a very simple interaction – the girl took offense, her boyfriend demanded apology…
The tension in the school had reached its peak. To prevent further escalation, the school prohibited the Syrian students to leave the classroom during the breaks. That didn’t help. For a long time, I advised and ordered to cease the confrontation. Finally, my students, who escaped to Germany from Syria, promised to stop. They had never lied to me until that day. I had solid trust in them. But on the next morning I found out that the Syrians met the Germans in the street the previous day and started a big fight…
I came into the classroom and said, “I don’t trust you anymore. You broke your promise…” One of the fighters stood up and stated:
‘Frau Petrosyan, we will settle everything by tomorrow.”
The next day I barely entered the school when the director said that things seemed to be calm at last. The sides talked and apologized to each other, and even dropped the charges. I went to the classroom and thanked the students. It seemed that everything settled. Now we live in relative peace. There are worrying incidents sometimes, but there are hopeful signs too. Nothing is lost yet…
The students’ club is a good place for preparing a wall newspaper, organizing games or a skilled hands club. That’s why we chose to make our theme wall newspaper there. Some students were drawing, others writing, when the German student, who led his peers in the fight, entered the club. I sensed slight tension and thought, “Hope it doesn’t start again…” Rafat had been struggling to open a paint can for a few minutes. He rose from the corner where he was sitting and approached the German student… I saw the latter tense immediately and curl his hand into a fist, but Rafat calmly outstretched the can and said,
“Could you help me? It’s very tight, I can’t open it.”
The German student was taken aback. He quickly dropped his backpack and jacket, and joined Rafat in the efforts to open the paint can.
Every Tuesday we organize a screening for students, discuss the film, talk and listen in German. It’s an efficient method to develop language skills. We watched Up!, an already well-known and beloved cartoon, for two-lesson time, then started discussing. Each student was to describe the cartoon’s story in one word. I heard answers such as “friendship”, “love”, “sadness” and some others. In the end, Mamun said, “A dream.”
“Frau Petrosyan, everyone has a dream, even if it’s a secret… My dream is to go back to Syria. I miss it…”
Many Syrian students repeated his words, and Rafat said his dream was a secret and he would only tell it to me, just not at the moment, and asked,
“What is your dream, Frau Petrosyan?”
“Well, yes, I have a dream too. I want to hop on a big, white, fluffy cloud, fly above the ground and look at people…”
The students had a laugh at that. After what I said Ala suddenly stated,
“And I want to ride the rainbow. It’s so beautiful!”
Ahmed was following the conversation silently. He smiled, reacted with facial expressions but didn’t utter a word.
“Ahmed, speak up. What is your dream?”
“I only have one dream, Frau Petrosyan. I wish I could see my parents, even if just one last time.”
His father is sick. They lived in a village in Syria, and once, during the harvest season, Ahmed’s father fell off the tree and got injured. He cannot walk. Ahmed parents are still in Syria, while he and his brother live in Germany.
I was stunned… For a moment, I could feel tears escaping… Then Ahmed suddenly stood up and said with his usual smile,
“Frau Petrosyan, when you ride on the cloud, please don’t forget to take a selfie. I would like to see that picture…”
Laughter erupted and the bell rang, and life went on.
Anush Petrosyan used to work at Mediamax, now she teaches refugee students in Germany.
These views are her own.