Thursday, July 21, 2016

School in Wartime

"All children here witnessed war."  That's what Larissa Zhidkova, headmistress of School No. 12 (Slovyansk, Urkaine), said about her students in an article for UNICEF, and it's a line that I can't get out of my head.  Living where I do, war--though I've spent years reading, listening, and talking about it--is a faraway thing.  I have family members who have experienced war firsthand, but I myself never have, and I have the gift of getting to go to sleep in the same bed every night without worrying whether or not it will still be there when I wake up in the morning.  But there are so many other people out there who don't have that luxury.  The fires and shellings and shootings we see in images are the ones that they see around them, and death is so real to them that life has become an unreliable game of chance.
Photo from

Anyway, I suppose the reason that I'm writing about this is because I feel like we forget too often what's happening to people (and animals, too) and become too focused on things like politics and disagreements.  We also spend so much time talking about what's new that we push long-term issues into the backs of our minds.  I mean, the fighting in Ukraine seems rarely discussed nowadays because it's an older subject, but that doesn't mean its effects aren't still felt.  The children at School No. 12 in Slovyansk have still experienced loss and tragedy and trauma.  Even if it may have not happened "recently," it still happened, and they're still working through it.  Fortunately for these children, though, school has become a place of respite, and their teachers (notably one named Yvgeni) have been providing stress management classes to help them cope with the scars of war.  Reading about these sorts of programs makes me smile because it reminds me that there's hope for recovery for everyone.  I wish there were more funding for these programs.  I volunteer in schools a lot, and there's an awful lot of funding for research into best teaching methods, etc., but I think the emphasis should be taken off of acronyms and theories and put onto things like education in wartime and stress remediation (for teachers as well as for students).  Those are just some thoughts for today.

<3 Frances

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