War kills or separates! We all know the direct consequences of war: death, disability, post-traumatic shock, mourning, starvation. Civilians and military are often housed in the same sign. And indirectly, war causes other insidious effects that nothing heals!
Families who make it out alive and unharmed often know the rushed departure of family members into exile. Volunteers often hear about emigration or Syrians going abroad to rebuild their lives.
And for these separated families, a very singular life begins. Paths differ, so do stories. The language remains the same but memories are no longer shared. So for those mothers of families who know their children abroad, especially in France, or for those Syrian women who are eager to know, it is important to discover this culture and learn Molière's language. This way they will have the opportunity to feel close to their exiles, despite the distance.
In Aleppo, some of them take weekly French courses offered by Syrian teachers helped by volunteers.
′′It's 6pm. Phone alarm sounded time to leave the office. After a working day that alternates between donations, music classes or interviews, now is the time to attend the adult French class. Once the bag is dropped on the table and the class sheets prepared, we are ready.
Grammar and vocabulary lessons, or conversation begins. Regularly, we are asked to give an example, talk about a historical period or French civilization, a famous monument... So, many times, am I lucky enough to make a presentation on the Louvre, the Château de Versailles, or even the Arc de Triumph. I also tell them about the history of France, the Merovingian era, the Renaissance of François I, to end with the romanticism of Chateaubriand. Under their sparkling eyes, I surpass myself and work my speech to make myself understand.
Staying focused, ready to answer all sorts of questions. Far from being stalled in the field of teaching, I am starting my career with the Syrians! Something I would have probably never done in France.
Time is gradually running out. Teacher finishes handing out the worksheets, before the most impatient cross the door threshold.
Class is over but our conversations continue. They have so much to teach me and tell me. They give me advice for my future life by telling me about their lives. I answer their questions about France, how we live, our customs, and everything that they think would be unthinkable here.
This difference in culture is not an obstacle, it is a wealth. We all have something to teach each other, to show to each other. With them, I share my passions, I tell them about the trips I have made across Europe. Listening to them fascinates me. They are passionate people, who always ask for more. Although their curiosity is difficult to satisfy, I strive to find them, for some, the most beautiful pictures I have of Paris, for others the most beautiful French poems.
These French courses are a wealth, an opportunity to learn, but also to consolidate very strong ties, incredible exchanges.
Volunteering is learning to give, to go beyond your limits. I see through these courses their will to a new beginning, and to succeed in escaping through teaching. They are an example of determination, because in the face of the difficulty of the French language, they do not give up and constantly try to improve themselves. In front of such energy, I motivate myself more to study Arabic.
I'm amazed at how fast they are improving. While the complexity of their language scares me, they never confess defeated before the many exceptions of grammar. They teach me patience in the face of hardships, and to take every difficulty as a challenge to overcome, not as an impranchable barrier. ′′
The mission in Syria is looking for future volunteers able to pass on the love of Molière's language to Syrians motivated by his learning. If you're interested in making the Francophonie shine, join us on a mission.
Josephine, volunteer in Syria.