Being Honest With Myself on the 3rd Week at The Refugee Camps

Being Honest With Myself on the 3rd Week at The Refugee Camps

Some days I dread going, and that’s in all honesty. I never know what to expect and the games are getting tiring.

Disclosure: I wrote these as journal entries → turned into a series of articles. So please excuse the many mentions of I, I, and I. This article was written the 3rd week into my work in Greece. The reason I did not share my experience sooner, is because there was a risk of not being permitted back to my volunteer services. Yes, even as a volunteer I could get banned. Truth is, a lot of ugly things have been done by “volunteers” and even including the workers involved — and to avoid any trouble, I kept quite. So some things I will rush over — but share over time. So please bare with me. 

→ And the obvious → please excuse any typos, run on sentences, and everything else — as this is me, raw and unedited. 

An elderly women was complaining to me about how she can’t remember some of these things. We were going over the homework from the day before, and she just wasn’t following along. She hadn’t been to class much either and was really good at excuses. She goes on to blame it on her age. I look at the woman sitting next to her, who had just asked me a question and was interrupted. This is awkward. The woman goes on to say her daughter can learn these things because she’s younger. Yeah that’s true, but I didn’t want her to rely on this. She can be better, so I responded, respectfully, of course with,

No, you just have far more years on your daughter which in result have taught you far more ways to make excuses. Your daughter, who is 12 years old, has not lived long enough to make the kind of excuses you’re capable of.

No lie, I got some claps in class and a whole bunch of “afareens” from the other students. Afareen in Farsi translates to something like ‘O hell ya!’ but much more politely.

I’m not someone that identifies as street smart but I am someone who is aware, try to be. With that said — here are a few street smart tactics I’ve noticed around the world, and some even in the camps. Like, the love for using the guilt card. For example, gypsies and/or homeless people will use this a lot. But I’ve also seen this in family, friends, debates, and politics.

When I first got to the camps and told them I would be there for a month — they said “oh but don’t you care about us enough to stay more.” I responded with, ‘if you think 1 month is short then I’m sure I’ll see you in class, all days, since you value my time.’

Continuing to ask the same question — pretending not to know what one is saying until: a.) getting a better answer. Or b.) getting out of it entirely. People will play the dumb card. Mostly for validation and other times to stroke the ego. But it’s safe to say, if you fall for any of these, guess what … you got fooled.

I say this ↑ but I also know not to judge them on it. Well, at least as much as I can. The thing is — EVERYONE THINKS THEY’RE THE GOOD GUY. Even myself. We all have a point of view, and to each it’s logic. When it comes to the refugees, in some ways, it’s a game of survival and the players don’t choose the cards their dealt. Sometimes these tactics become your kit. Sometimes not. I think it’s safe to say, that in most everyone, it’s a form of human nature.

But I believe in a solution. Education is a valuable tool that can take you far in life. Farther than we can even imagine sometimes.

It’s times like these that remind me of the importance in teachers roles. I wish we treated them better, compensated them more fairly, and appreciated them in the moment as oppose to in later years.


Though, it makes me sad to think of the unqualified teachers — both in classrooms and in training — that are put in charge of shaping and molding our next generation. Some I even know of — I’m talking about the ones that are small minded which are the same that take offense to this. The ones that purely believe their way is the right way. The type of teacher that punishes you for thinking outside the box….

It’s moments like these, in which I think of my husband even more. I think about the effort and patience he puts into me. Teaching me things and helping me advance. Because so many people in my life were patient with me …. I too can be patient with them.