One thing leads to another. Following our adventures in South Africa and Lebanon, I was keen to look for another such opportunity. It gives me the chance to use my experience as a Drama teacher, and both of us the opportunity to experience life in another location. If it also means the young people I am working with enjoy and derive a positive experience from it (and so far that has proved to be the case) then that is an undoubted further benefit.
This time around, however, the path to finding such an opportunity was not straightforward. In Lebanon, I had met two American grad students who were also volunteering with Jusoor, and I attended a conference that they were organising in New York. There I was introduced to Joel Hernandez, who worked for an NGO on the Greek island of Lesvos, which among other projects ran a school for refugee unaccompanied minors there, called Gekko Kids. Eventually, it was agreed that I should go out there for three months, to teach Drama, and, inshallah, put on a production.
There are some significant differences this time; chiefly, on a personal level, that I am on my own. Pressure of work prevents Val from joining me, though she is planning a couple of visits. The young people are rather older, between about 13 and 17, and are of various nationalities, though at present the vast majority are from Afghanistan. As with last year, there is a problem of language. All of them are taught English, and some are reasonably competent, but that is not the same as performing in it, so it is likely that the final performance will be in a mixture of English and Dari – the language of Afghanistan, and very close to Farsi, or Persian.
And so, Once upon a time in Persian/Dari… Once again, we hope you enjoy reading about it.
The banner at the top of our Lesvos blog comes from a magnificent mosaic on the wall of Mytilini’s theatre building that we walk past everyday on the way to town / the harbour / school. As you can see, the original is a magic carpet, a fitting symbol for people fleeing from who knows what.