Games without frontiers
My first working day today, though various factors meant it wasn’t the smoothest of starts.
- The paid teaching staff, all Greek, had a training day today, so I was asked to cover the first hour and a half. Covering for the entire school sounds more daunting than it actually was, as only about a dozen turned up.
- It is Ramadan at the moment, which has an impact upon the attendance (good, from my point of view) and the energy levels (not so much).
- The school ethos is respectful but intentionally relaxed. Students are not compelled to attend, and there are all sorts of reasons why they might not. It also means there is a certain coming and going even during lessons, so I suppose I should feel grateful I ended with more than I started with.
- Language. I always knew this was going to be an issue, but it is something I am going to have to manage, as there are no interpreters available. Some students speak English (and a few speak it very well); all are learning it, but for many their understanding is limited, veering towards non-existent. One tries to use the more fluent to translate for the less, but when you are not sure that even the fluent understand you, it does demand a lot of faith.
The twelve of us squeezed into one of the four small classrooms, and, as ever with Drama, we began with games. Some of you will know them: the name game, throwing a cushion around the circle and saying the name of the recipient; the chair game, in which one person in the middle of the circle calls out a category, and all those to whom it applies have to change seats (difficult with limited English, but surprisingly successful); grandma’s footsteps – remarkable but not entirely surprising that young people who have made it all the way from their home to Lesvos can be so involved in getting from one side of the room to the other, without being seen to move; and, of course, zip zap boing (at which they were remarkably good.)
There was plenty of laughter throughout, so that’s objective number one achieved.