“All the best! You can do it!”
"This phrase became my mantra at the beginning of each day for three weeks at United Learning Centre. Some students smiled shyly and quickly buried their heads in their work, others thanked me, and a few said the same mantra to me teasingly with laughing eyes, earning a playful glare from me. Each of them is different. I realised quickly how significant the impact we made as their teachers and friends. We were not only guiding them in learning academic subjects, but also imparting life-long lessons and values to them. They look up to us, knowing that there is always something we could teach them. Little did they know that we teachers have received more than we have given throughout our time with them. We see refugees through the lens of desperation, terror and ink constant need for help, as often portrayed by the news media. Indeed, every ULC student left Myanmar with his or her family due to religious persecution and violence erupted between government troops and ethnic rebel groups. Yet, beyond their suffering, I see them through another set of lenses - that of empowerment. Raymond, a student who learnt to speak fluent English after two years of study at the centre, helped me by translating my words into Burmese when explaining a mathematical concept to another student. Esther and Lily rushed to comfort their friend Rachel, who cried after knowing other teachers and I had to leave ULC to continue with our studies abroad. Upon my leaving, one student gave me a handmade bracelet as a blessing and prayer for my safety, wherever I may be in life. These students, with little money and protection, empower people around them with what they have - that is, hope and love. Here, they dare to dream and work for their dreams. They are constantly reminded of preparing themselves not only for the weekly tests they take to evaluate their academic performance, but also for life’s challenges ahead, giving their best each day to take another step forward. Until the day when the United Nations arrange their resettlement, or when their parent(s) decide to return to Myanmar, may our hope and work for a better tomorrow continue to reflect theirs. As my cheeky students wished me every morning then: all the best! We can do it. "