It’s not uncommon at ELIC for our long-term teachers to spend part of their summer break participating in a short-term program in another part of the world. It gives them a new perspective and reinvigorates them for their work in their primary country. We recently asked one of our long-term teachers in Mongolia to reflect on a trip to northern Iraq. Here’s what he said:
I went, wondering if I’d be able to handle the Middle Eastern summer. I went, wondering why I was going on a summer program to Iraq when I had already gone to Asia. I went to a place far from Mongolia, far from the city I now call home.
That summer, in the middle of a July heat, I leaned up against a shaded fence at a schoolyard in northern Iraq. A seventeen-year-old boy walked up and leaned with me. Although we spoke few words of a common language, this had become his routine and it felt good to share in the leaning. Slowly, working the words out before he said them, the boy asked a question: ‘You… come again?’ ‘I don’t know, but I hope to,’ I replied. His next words still haunt me: ‘Me too… because… I love you.’ A week and a half is all it took to impact this student. A week and a half is all it took for him to impact me.