A few years ago I met a man named Ahmed. He and his family had just come to the United States on refugee status from Iraq. He was enrolling his daughter at my school. She was a beautiful little first grader who spoke absolutely no English. This scenario was nothing new for us as we had over 100 ELL students in our school and many non-speakers. However, there was something about Ahmed that was different he had a drive and determination about him that was difficult to ignore. I had this feeling that he was about to do amazing things.
Then, a month ago, he approached me with an idea. He sat in my office to talk to me about a grant he had applied for in the hopes of running an after school program for ELL students. We were talking and he was speaking in terms of the “what ifs” and the “maybes”. I stopped him and pointed to the wall above the windows in my office. There, spelled out in big, black letters was the word DREAM and I said, “Ahmed, we’re dreaming this year! So let’s stop with the 'maybes' and let’s start dreaming! What’s your dream?”
He went on to tell me that he wanted to help his community by giving children a place to come to have help with homework, to learn English and to begin to understand the culture of the United States. He also wanted a place for them to learn about the culture of the countries they left behind so their heritage wouldn’t be forgotten. His dream was to help people have a better life here in America.
Fast forward to Monday, September 29th. Ahmed’s after school program began at my school. We met about a week ago to finalize the details, when he stood up to leave at the end of the meeting, he paused, looked up at the big, black letters above the window that spelled DREAM and he said,
“The dream has become reality!”
(Image from bigappledreaming.com)
I hope my blog posts inspire risk taking and new ways of thinking. I hope to connect with other educators on our journey to always do what's best for children.