I spent my morning at the Sunday Arabic school, greeting the children upon their arrival, and chatting with them during break time. It reminded me of my kindergarten teaching days in Bangkok, when I would wake up extra early to collect the students at the school gates, before their parents rushed off to work. Sometimes the children stumbled through the gates half-asleep, other times they were only too eager to offer their polite ‘wai’ and run off to class, and then sometimes, I had to pry them from their mother’s arms. Anyhow, today it wasn’t an early morning, so most of the children came bouncing through the doors, and rushed up the stairs to meet their friends and teachers. Some of them looked at me quizzically, not sure how to respond to my MarHabaa (Hello), and others just smiled as they took my hand, and expected me to guide them to class. On the way to class, I practiced my limited Arabic much to their bemusement.
At lunch time, I got up the courage to ask the students to check my Arabic homework. They excitedly gathered around my notebook, and examined my writing.
For the most part, they could read my writing. My laam was a little short, but other than that, I had no major problems. Some of them wanted to write my name, and I learned three different variations, and was instructed, by a bossy six-year-old, to try it on my own. And so, I did. Arabic writing is so beautiful, and I certainly do not do it justice, but hopefully with practice, my writing will turn into art.
One little boy was particularly interested in me learning Arabic. As I was taking the class list down in the hallway, he asked me, “Can I interrupt you? You’re learning Arabic? Why don’t you join our class?” I smiled, and said, “ Na’am (yes). Arabic is a difficult language. Shokran…..next week, I will join your class.” With that answer, he ran off to finish his pizza, before returning to his Sunday studies. And next week, I’ll be joining the other students for some Arabic lessons.