The Dar Chebab (youth center) is my second home.
Every afternoon I pack up my backpack with lesson plans and books and whiteboard markers and begin the short walk towards the center. I drop by my favorite hanut to buy a snack (lately: Coke and Snickers) and chat about the changes in the weather (he has officially announced that l-brt mcha, the cold has left) before assuming my way once more.
My work at the center is focused on teenagers. Oh, the teenagers. A group of kids walking around in grown up bodies, trying to make sense of their lives and the world around them. I gaze around me and watch budding romances form and the sting as they fade away. I watch their hairstyles change and the chase for the ever-elusive label of “being cool.” I know which kids come to my class to learn, and which ones come to socialize.
I’m literally watching these kids grow up before my eyes.
I think a lot about the Dar Chebab and what it means to me. How it has given me somewhere to belong in a place so far from home. How it has given me a group of people to care about, and who care about me.
What I’ve failed to spend enough time thinking about, however, is what the Dar Chebab means to them. What is it about the Dar Chebab that makes them come back, day after day?
Last week I decided to ask.
We were learning how to write haikus, and for their application activity I asked them to write me a haiku about why they like the Dar Chebab or what the Dar Chebab means to them.
Here’s a sampling of what they wrote:
We learn some good things / It is my air that I breathe / It makes me better
I love Dar Chebab / Taught me the meaning of life / It makes me happy
Hm hm Dar Chebab / Girls and boys are beautiful / We have a good time
Oh oh Dar Chebab / I’m happy with Abbey / I like Dar Chebab
Dar Chebab is great / It is a wonderful world / I love it so much
Dar Chebab so good / Abbey makes our minds better / We love you so much
I like Dar Chebab / You’re my best place in my life / I am so happy
Dar Chebab is my place / I am so happy with you / I like it so much
In the Dar Chebab / We spend most of our good time / It makes me happy
I love Dar Chebab / Happy happy Dar Chebab / Dar Chebab wow wow
My love Dar Chebab / You make me be so happy / You’re my best teacher
I like Dar Chebab / Dar Chebab is beautiful / I love you Abir
What did I learn?
The Dar Chebab isn’t a second home to only me.