"They see that the breakout can be when children go to school."
Edit has been monitoring the development of the residents from the beginning, so she can perfectly see what difficulties the teachers had to face.
We have asked the teachers on several occasions to tell us how the teaching is going and in which direction the young people's development heading. This time we have interviewed a volunteer teacher, Edit Kecskés, who in the beginning held craft sessions for children, and recently helps adults learn to read and write.
Why did you apply as a volunteer teacher at the Refugee Center?
When the war broke out, I wanted to do something. When the wave of refugees started, I decided that I would help those who left their homes. All of a sudden, life threw me in an email that the Dorcas Ministries was looking for teachers. Then I thought I'd give it a try, sign up and visit the campsite. Anyway, I would have gladly accepted any job. I always help those in need. I wanted to support them, even indirectly. Here, at the Refugee Center, I came up with the idea of helping the organization and the needy at the same time.
What was your task as a volunteer?
My task was to keep the little ones busy, to have something to do every day. Thanks to the volunteer teachers, we were able to organize programs for the children every day. There were sports games, science and physics lessons, as well as craft activities on a weekly basis.This started in the spring until we could not develop them purposefully. These sessions were also good for assessing how leveled they are. We found that many young people are seriously behind. From June, we managed to get development teachers, and the catch-up program for them started.
What was it like in March, when you and the other volunteer teachers started the sessions? How did the little residents welcome you?
When we started the sessions, the children avoided us a lot. There was a kind of fear in them, they were not open at all, they ran away from us. Then I noticed that after a few days they started following me from afar, from then on I knew we had won the case. Trust began to develop. It didn't take long and they became much more open. Maybe two weeks after the start, they were already competing about who would hold my hand when I went from one point to another. This was a huge step forward for me.
What difficulties did you have to face during the sessions?
The biggest problem is that many parents don't value learning, they don't motivate their kids enough to learn. This is where it became clear to me that many parents are completely illiterate. Surprisingly, it's not just one or two adults. This presented the foundation with a new task. It was then that we realized that it was necessary to start a basic level training for adults as well.
When did you start teaching adults?
Yes. When catch-up education started for the children, I started teaching the adults to read and write. The goal was not only that they can they write down and read their personal data, but that they actually learn to read and write.
How easy was it to involve adults in learning?
There were difficulties. Mainly because they were ashamed. I tried to convince them. I always told them that it doesn't matter how old you are, if you learn something, it will benefit you. You do have to dedicate time to it, and you don't have to be ashamed of it. But there was also a part of the team that really enjoyed it and wanted to improve. We achieved very nice results together. We learned with completely different methods than with the child. In their case, fine motor skills have already developed. They knew the letters visually. They saw captions, so it was much easier for them to recognize the letters when we were learning the ABCs. Printed letters are recognized, but cursive writing is not.
"They love it when I call them to the board and they have to write the letters on the board. It's a great experience for them, we've practiced this quite a lot".
It was interesting to me that they had the most problems with the written letter "s". We practiced a lot in the air.
Then we laughed a lot about it.I didn't give homework at the end of the lessons. We tried it, but they preferred not to take the notebooks home, because the little ones took them away and drew on them. So this method didn't work. Rather, we took the time to practice there. I tried to make the lessons informal. I think adults are motivated, and we also need someone to teach them these basic skills. I've been asked many times when the next class is, which means I want to continue. I see that the majority want to do something, they see that the breakthrough is when the children go to school.
Adult education is currently suspended. Would you like to continue teaching in the future?
I definitely want to continue! I currently work at the reception, so I still keep in touch with the residents here. We got stuck because the education room was now occupied and we couldn't study in a separate room. As I noticed, it is important for them to be separated, not to be seen. It could be because they are ashamed. We're not done yet, but we have time after all.
"For some residents, we are already at the point where they will be able to read and write in 1-2 weeks."
7-8 adults will definitely learn these basic school skills, which we can count as a huge success.
Looking back from the start, what is your opinion, at what level can you see the development of the young people?
To be honest, we ourselves would not have believed that we would see such progress in such a short time. The young people who live here came here, sometimes going to school, sometimes not. And lately they have had more online education. However, these are young people with surprisingly good abilities. The progress is huge, both in terms of duty, in terms of learning, and in terms of education. They had to get used to the regularity. The children learned that there is an occupation. They do the tasks, they have learned this routine nicely.The other day, one of the little girls came to the reception and said to me: "I am sorry Edit, for disturbing you during lunch. I would like a pen." She behaved in a decent manner. This statement made it clear to me that we are on the right track and there is a huge amount of progress.