Zayd tutored English and Math and coached soccer at a camp for refugee students organized by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) last summer. One morning I sat in the back of the classroom as John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ filled the room; the teacher handed out lyrics, with some words missing in each line. The kids – from Afghanistan, Syria, Ethiopia, Sudan, Pakistan and elsewhere – many of whom were just learning English, were asked to listen closely to the song and fill in the missing words; sometimes, ‘peace’, sometimes ‘brotherhood’, sometimes ‘dreamer’. Then one by one, line by line, these kids in their beautiful accents with their treasured and tragic histories, brought this song to life.
A few weeks ago, two of the young women in the video graduated from high school; they’ll be going to community college in the Fall. It was no easy feat, to come to a new country, learn a new language, catch up on school, figure out a new culture, and make it all work. Their determination and will is inspiring. One of the young women, for example, would get up at 4am every morning, when her family moved quite a distance away from her school; she would drive with her father to his work place, take a metro from there, and arrive at school by 7:30am; and do it all again on the way home, and every day. Lindsay Dusard, of the IRC, supported these girls and other students in so many ways, and her dedication is truly admirable. We had a chance to celebrate the graduation of four Afghan girls at a wonderful Afghan restaurant, Aracosia; the owner, a dear friend, hosted them. The girls brought their caps and gowns and medals and posed for photos to mark the milestone.
I think John Lennon would have loved this rendition of his song.
(Thank you Lindsay for capturing this video.)