My first day in Moria (a refugee camp in Greece, last December) I met a boy from Afghanistan named Aryan. He was my age, and saw quickly how overwhelmed I was - trying to get all these adult men to listen to me while I shouted, trying to set up tents before it started pouring rain. He helped me translate and helped me carry things back and forth, up and down the hill. He had come over on the boat with a friend. Leaving his family behind.
He followed me around that night, helping me speak to people who spoke no English. He could speak four languages, and as we walked, he told me poems in Farsi and then translated them into English. He tried to teach me words in Farsi, and I would say them, laughing, and then promptly forget them when he quizzed me 30 seconds later. As I heard people speak the language throughout the next month I was there, I wished so much that I could also speak it, also help in that way - and the beauty of those poems stuck with me.
I got a little annoyed with Aryan a couple days later, because I was stressed and trying to do things and he kept telling me I should stop, I should eat, I should rest.. "You don't get to tell me what to do," I remembered saying to him finally, exasperated. And he had told me how to find him on Facebook, but the next day he left and I didn't get to say bye and I was never able to find his Facebook, after all.
I think about him often - this boy who was so kind to me that could speak poems in different languages, who left almost everyone he knew at home in hopes of getting to Germany. I'm sure I'll never see him again, never know if he managed to cross the border, if he got there.
But his gift to me was that he left me with this desire to learn the language. And so in coming to Pitt, in looking at schools for social work, one thing I kept wanting to know was, "Can I also learn Farsi here?" And at Pitt, I can. My teacher is this hilarious, super put-together older woman from Iran. There are only maybe 12 of us in the class, and almost everyone is a heritage student - meaning they are taking the class because one of their parents is Persian. I have been so overwhelmed (in a good way) with it all week, especially since she told us we would learn to read and write first. And I have been struggling, with these new characters that are unlike anything I've tried to read before. But all my teacher has been saying all week to us is "Do not drop this class. You will learn. It takes time. It's ok. Stay with me."
And today when I sat down with my homework, all of a sudden, I had this moment when things just started to make sense - I squealed out loud, sitting outside by myself. The characters made sense, I knew what sounds they made, I knew which word was which and what they meant. I was actually reading the characters on my paper, saying them out loud. And then one of my Facebook friends shared a post and the girl's name was written in Farsi and I looked at it and was like "oh my god, I can read that, I know what sounds those make and I know what her name is!!"
And right now I'm at this random coffee house in Pittsburgh that also has a bar and I'm doing my homework and this is my Saturday night and I'm remembering all of these experiences that have somehow led me up to this point and life just seems like magic. And that is all. <3