Sunday, 26 February 2012

This is England...

He pointed out at the boys playing football on the school sports pitch in the drizzle.

'This is very nice.'

I assumed that since he had only been learning English for three and a half months, he probably hadn't mastered sarcasm yet.

'Ummm.... Yes...?'

'England is very nice. No trouble. This....' - he gestured around him - '...very...quiet. No boom boom boom.' He made an internationally recognised hand signal.

'Gun fire?'

'Yes. I like England.'

At the end of the workshop he came up and shook my hand.

'I am very looking forward to next week, for Drama. I see you next week.'

'Yes. I'm looking forward to it too.'

And I am. Although there is a bit of trouble at the school, at the moment, and the young refugee boys are being targeted and victimised by some of the other students at the school, to such an extent that one of them had to be escorted home for his safety, and we had to end our workshop early so we could escort them back to the area of the school where they study until they are ready for timetabled classes, before lunch break so they were safe.

It makes me sad.

It's also interesting that these boys, who have arrived here from all across the world (predominantly Afghanistan, but also Poland, Bulgaria, Sri Lanka, Romania, Pakistan, Albania....) start off so, so polite and respectful; they are, I think - and they do articulate this, best they can - so grateful to be here, to be safe and to be studying in a British school. But then, as they become more confident,and more importantly I think, as they see the behaviour of the students in the school around them - much less respectful and polite, feeling far less privileged to be getting an education - they start to emulate the attitude of the British boys. Picking up on their walks, their language, their ways of interacting. One of the teachers in the 'Link', where the young migrants study until they are ready to be thrust into the mainstream, said, with a sad sigh, they become 'British-ified'. He said, 'We want them to integrate, just not too much!'

Working in all the different contexts and community groups that I do has so many benefits and one of these is just gaining insights into different worlds I wouldn't normally enter; it raises so many issues: social, political, cultural, personal... It sounds a bit trite to summarise it like this, but it makes me think a lot. Miss Fox was right: my education is continuing all the time.

No comments:

Post a Comment