Our current ESL reading focuses on a boy, Alem, from a war-torn African country taking refuge in England. Most recently, the legal system is trying to kick him out and send him back to Eritrea, where his mother has just been killed.
Class discussion today revolved around what his friends could do to help. My goal is to get these kids to realize that they can do big things.
The first set of answers turned up such ideas as, “comfort him.” Or “tell your parents.” Or “nothing.”
Not the kind of initiative that I was hoping for.
Finally, one child offered up that Alem’s co-students could go to the government.
“Ok!” I said excitedly. “And what could they do to make the government change their verdict?”
We were finally getting somewhere!
I expected a pause in conversation as my students racked their brains to develop intricate political plans to assist their hypothetical friend.
Surprising me, he responded readily. “They could just bribe the government to let Alem stay.”
My first reaction was to shut down this idea and ask for a better way to do things. And then I realized… Yes. That is exactly how things work in this country.
Indonesian politics made simple through the wise words of a 12-year-old.