"In September 2017, I started teaching a class of refugee children in Samos, Greece. The “Dreamers Programme”, as it later came to be known as, is the only source of education for 13 and 14 year olds living in the Hotspot, on the island. We teach English, Greek, Math, Geography, Biology, Art, Sexual Education, Cooking and Basketball. Over the first six months of coordinating the program, the results were astonishing. The children, including those who had never been in school before, showed great improvement, so much so that some of them can now act as my unofficial translators with other adults in the centre and in the camp. It wasn’t an easy journey. When I walked in the first time, gruesome fights were a daily occurrence. The kids would throw chairs at one another for apparently no reason. How to blame them? They suffer from the traumas they endured in the war, during the migration and even now in the camp. Their families are often unstable, carrying the same scars.
Six months on, however, fights have subsided, in spite of the eight nationalities and almost as many languages and cultures that make up the class population. How was this possible? We provided a structured, safe and trusted environment for them to thrive. Today, these children are starting to be children again. Three months into the programme, the class was stable enough to vote their own name, and so the Dreamers came into being. The life of refugees is hard, especially when they move on to the mainland, where drugs, crime and prostitution run wild among the marginalised. But if I have even an ounce of hope that some of these kids will survive the challenges that the world will throw at them, I know it’s also thanks to this class.
“Dreaming Wide” was created for refugee children struggling to receive the only thing that they are truly asking for: a fair chance."
- Nicolò Govoni.
The book revolves around three simple principles: (1) All the exercises have been rewritten to be refugee friendly, with words and verbal hooks that the children know due to their daily routine in the camp. (2) The exercises feature names and situations with which they are familiar and can relate. (3) Many exercises, on top of the mere grammar, educate the kids about their rights and what to expect from Europe.
The textbook should be suitable not only for the Dreamers but for teenage refugees resettling in Europe in general. So hopefully this could be a useful resource for other educators in a situation like ours.