In an effort to compose the words which embrace all that I would hope to achieve by developing future learning spaces in Za’atari, I keep returning to these words written over 20 years ago. They still apply beautifully today to my vision of what could and should be achieved for the refugees of Za’atari. (The fact that I later discovered these words were written by a man by the name “Aristotle” just seems serendipitous).
My future learning space is designed for one main purpose – to achieve:
“The hope for a future that yields a higher quality of life, justice and compassion for all peoples lies in the ground we lay for our children and young people to tread” (Aristotle, 1996, p. ii).
My future learning space must acknowledge what each refugee is battling to overcome:
“It is often said that the first casualty of war is truth, but perhaps the most tragic and enduring casualty lies in the shattering of childhood innocence and adolescence. In the madness of war and armed conflict, morality is sacrificed and, instead of laying the foundations upon which a young person’s experience of hope and prosperity can be built, a culture of devastation, loss, grief and hopelessness is fostered” (Aristotle, 1996, p. ii).
Educators within a future learning space are in the privileged position in meeting a refugee’s challenge with patience, compassion and determination in order to make a difference to their future:
“As workers in a position to assist young survivors of torture and trauma, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and powerless to help. Their suffering can seem insurmountable and the solutions often feel out of reach. However, this is not the case. In the first instance, young people themselves have demonstrated resourcefulness and resilience in their ability to survive and this provides the base upon which positive intervention strategies can be built. Additionally, the experience which workers develop in other health and community service areas remains relevant and can contribute to meaningful interventions and support. The challenge which confronts us all is to find the courage to try, to make the effort to understand and to build the bridges between ourselves and young survivors, which create options for a brighter future” (Aristotle, 1996, p. iii).
Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture Inc., (1996). Guide to Working with Young People who are Refugees. Retrieved on October 20, 2015 from http://www.foundationhouse.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/WorkingwithYoungPeoplewhoareRefugees.pdf
Quotes from Paris Aristotle, prior director and current CEO of the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture Inc.