Meet Abeer, Teach For Lebanon 2012
Meet Abeer, Teach For Lebanon 2012
Abeer Obaid is a member of Teach For Lebanon's 2012 cohort. In February 2013 she represented Teach For Lebanon at the Teach For All Synergies Transformational Teaching Summit. These are her reflecions:
Ever since the day I was born, people in Lebanon have been fighting over which religion is “better” than others. When I applied to Teach For Lebanon I wanted to change things in my country, but I didn't know how until I started my school year in the North. I was shocked to see that the parents who lived through the civil war of 1975 (Lebanese from different religious backgrounds fighting within the same country) taught the same ideas of hatred to their kids. When the TFL team visited me at my school, one student commented, “I wish they belonged to our religion. They would have gone to heaven!” That day I found my goal: To be a mentor who can give students all the options in life and guid them to respect others.
The day I arrived in India for the Global Teaching Summit, I was asked by one of the Fellows about my religious background. I replied, “It won’t make a difference," and realized that this problem is found all over the world. I was inspired to use this difference to learn and add to my plan to pursue my goal. In one of our sessions, we visited the place where Gandhi was cremated. Adithya, a Teach For India Fellow, talked to us about Gandhi’s leadership techniques and how, unlike other leaders, he was peaceful in his plans. He shared with us 10 different techniques of how to be a better person and a peaceful leader. I realized then that what my students needed was such an example of how to be a peaceful person with the determination pursue goals in life.
Religion is the relationship between an individual and God. It was never meant to be a means of discrimination. When I went home, I discussed Gandhi’s life and accomplishments with my students. My students were very impressed and wished to be like him. I asked them, “What do you think Gandhi’s religion was?” Since they lived in a Muslim village, their answer was, “Muslim of course.” I remember their astonished faces when I introduced Gandhi’s religion. For som of these students, this was the first time in their lives they were able to judge a person for who he was as a human being rather than according to religious belief.
Later, I introduced to my students my best friends from college whom I liked and respected for their personalities—not their religious background. I introduced my friends, Michael and John, to my students as Mohammad and Ali. We observed together the way they talked, acted, and laughed, and learned what they accomplished in life. Michael shared his story with his fiancee, who comes from a different religious background. He said, “We managed to look into each other’s eyes and see what kind of person each one of us is. She is the most caring and loving person, and anyone would be lucky to get to know her. Start looking into your friends’ eyes and judge them according to who they are and not to what background they ‘belong.’”
My class reflected for two days about how similar or differenty my friends were from themselves. On the third day, I revealed their real names. I saw their jaws drop in amazement, and heard my most challenging student say, “Wow Miss, they are just like us!”
Have I reached my ultimate goal? Not yet. I am still working, but I made a difference in my students' livs and the future of my country. Every person in this world should know that he or she exists for a reason. Find your reason and use your experiences in life to learn. I know I found mine!