The Voice of Moustafa
In October 2022, Moustafa, a 13-year-old Syrian refugee boy, was given the chance to enroll in a basic literacy and numeracy (BLN) class at Phoenix Forum in the south of Lebanon.
On his first day, Moustafa expressed particular interest in learning English, even though he had no prior knowledge of the language. He walked into a class for the first time in many years, and naturally, he became distracted by the stationary being handed out and the whispers of his classmates as a friendly-faced teacher was giving instructions. He was unable to focus his gaze or sit still. He wanted to play, and his excitement could not be contained. His resistance to follow classroom rules, participate in class activities, and complete given tasks was affecting his performance considerably.
The teachers’ technical training and years of experience cultivated the necessary skills to recognize that this behavior is part of the learning process. It is the adaptive learning curve required to reintegrate children back into structured educational systems. They patiently created and implemented an intervention plan to gradually teach the boy to regulate his own emotions and behavior as well as appreciate the value of learning.
One Monday morning, Moustafa got into a loud argument with one of his classmates. He became furious, screaming at the top of his lungs, and demanding to leave the center.
The boy was given the space to calm down. Teachers listened attentively as he went through the events of the misunderstanding. They reassured him that, in the center, he does not have to scream for others to listen. He does not have to fight for justice to be served.
This event showed the boy that he that the “Back to the Future” center is a safe space, and that he can trust his teachers. From that day on, he began to follow class rules. He also learned to have calm discussions and resolve conflicts rationally.
His newfound approach also made him a very good English student.