Story and Photos by Heather Esposito/ TSOS Contributing Artist
Tiba exudes joy. At 10, she is the oldest child in her family. When they left Iraq she was six. She remembers living there very well.
In Iraq, she could hear explosions outside. She could not go to school because it was too dangerous to go out. She remembers feeling scared almost all of the time. When her family arrived in Turkey she could go to school, but it still wasn’t safe. She had to walk over two miles to get to school, then walk 2 miles back. (I have a six-year-old and I know walking that distance would not be easy.) Sometimes it would be pouring rain. Her parents walked with her whenever they could, but sometimes Tiba had to walk by herself. The road was not always safe and there was no public transportation. But she went because it meant that much to her and her parents. This is what courage looks like. She is inspiring.
Tiba speaks the best English in her family. (Kids learn so fast!) When I asked her what it was like to live in America, she said it’s beautiful and she feels very safe here. Her favorite things so far are school and her teacher. She said the kids in her class are all so nice to her. They are all her friends.
Her favorite things to do — besides go to school (which is #1 on the list) — is to help her mom cook. She also loves helping take care of her brother and sister and is excited to have a new baby coming soon.
After talking to the kids, one of the things that impressed me the most was how utterly grateful they are to go to school and how much they adore their teachers. So teachers — whoever you are — thank you. You are profoundly affecting your students’ lives and they are sure never to forget you.