Studentship, my DNA: Reflections of a Lebanese teacher

18 Feb . 4 Min Read .  581

With the online learning taking place now because of Covid-19, the student is once again the center of life to which we cling and upon whom hope depends.

I have been an educator for the past 30 years of my life. I have taught in renowned universities in Lebanon, and for the past ten years, I have been teaching at Haigazian University in Beirut, a university small in campus but huge in impact and merit. Throughout my years of teaching, I have come to the conclusion: studentship is my DNA.

My teaching career started when I was 18 years old. I was a part-time teacher at a language learning center and a full-time student at a university for higher education. Now, 30 years later, I realize that everything around me has metamorphosed and changed, except studentship. 

It has been the steady continuum in my life from the time I was a three-year-old student, up to when I became a teacher at 18, all the way to this minute. Studentship has been the bridge that has joined the two ends of my life: the 18-year-old end where both being a teacher and being a student overlapped and the current end where the awareness of being an educator stems from studentship. In both ends, there have been wars, and in these wars, students have been the glue that have adhered the shattered pieces of my life in such a way that the crannies have integrally composed a wholesome vase, a more beautiful one.

Two weeks ago, a municipal car roamed in the streets and roads of Mtayleb, the town where I live, with loud speakers emitting cautionary notes that raise awareness about the perils of Coronavirus (Covid-19): they clarify how leaving home is fraught with danger. “We beg the inhabitants to stay home. A decree has been issued by the government, buttressed by the Mtayleb municipality, asking all the citizens to remain indoors, for the sake of their loved ones and for their own sake. Do you want to protect your loved ones? Stay home!” Lines that wreak painful memories of the civil war in Lebanon, especially the wars of 1988- 1990 that I lucidly recall because I was a young university student then.

Similar to this Coronavirus (Covid-19) phase we are currently experiencing, a car would pass with loud speakers alarming inhabitants to take shelter from the upcoming falling bombs and missiles, in the 1988-1990 wars.

Both extremities, the 1988-1990 and the March-April 2020 are wars: one with bombs falling on our heads and another with viruses invading our lives. And in both wars, the student remains the entity that maintains continuity, with all the measures and the methods available. In the 1988-1990 wars, my mother and I, along with our neighbors of the same building and of the entire block, would sleep in the underground shelter every night to protect ourselves from the terror and the life-threatening bombardments and blasts. During day time, a seemingly normal life would surface: my mother would return to her home chores, and I would resume my studying at university.

Back then, we, as students, were the hope of tomorrow that had already started with our present, a present crowned with our determination to be alive. Students were in need to be alive for their own sake and for the sake of those who died, leaving their hopes and dreams in the hands of the survivors. We had two lives, aspirations, hopes, setbacks and victories to breathe for. Amidst an equation calculated and woven by powerful nations, we created our lives.

Respectively, in our present Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, we are in the process of redefining our lives. A different aspect of life and of living has emerged, and the student’s entirety of being appears to be at the heart of this pulsating reality. The student, again, is the nucleus of the cell, at home, online, in the teaching-learning dynamics.

The Gestalt theory would be relevant here. Whether the focus in the Gestalt experiment is on the rabbit or on the duck, it is the perception itself that matters. Without the student, there is no teacher, no school, no university, no strife, and no life… The student has been a pivoting continuum in my life. Everything in my life has changed; nothing has remained the same within and without. Heraclitus, the Greek philosopher, would explain, “You can never step in the same river twice.” In this ocean of constant change, DNA has stabilized me: I continue to be ‘me’ despite the biological change. My DNA has been my assertive continuity. Along the same note, psychologically and socially speaking, my life has been a whirlpool of change: my parents passed away, my habitat changed, my friends grew, I have lost people along the way, I have gained others, but the on-going unchanging dominant continuum has been "studentship."

Studentship is another DNA that has insured constancy despite the multitude of change as my biological DNA has provided the continuity in the amplitude of variation. In different words, the student has been the suave heart that has patched the past with the present. The past is unreachable in the temporal world, and so is the future. But in the ethereal ongoing presence of both worlds, the student is the meaning and the core.

With the online learning taking place now because of Covid-19, the student is once again the center of life to which we cling and upon whom hope depends. After the craze of the disease dwindles, and regularity gradually regains its rhythm, the learner is the defense mechanism for a tomorrow that teems with life.

The student is the help-line, perhaps the guide-line, to which common people who are cobwebbed and entangled in political algorithms have the chance to hold on strong to. For the past three-weeks, I have been teaching with my phone 3G/4G, without any Internet. I got disconnected, and I have not been able to reconnect because of the Coronavirus lockdown.

Some students have Internet problems, laptop issues, virtual learning disabilities, connection headaches, family conflicts, but they go on, they do their homework, they maintain their politeness and courtesy, and with their forward motion, the whole nation, the entire globe, moves forward. They are the prevailing force that sculpts the future. When I look at tomorrow, I see it waiting with open arms for a continual growth led by learners, as Lebanon continues to bloom amidst the assailing storms: today, on Good Friday, in our home confinement, a car passes by with Christian hymns echoing in the horizon, praising the Crucifixion of Jesus, reassuring that after the Golgotha, there is Resurrection.

Source: Annahar / Date added: 10 May 2020  

Similar Subjects

18 Jan . 3 Min Read


16 Apr . 4 Min Read


18 Feb . 8 Min Read


18 Feb . 7 Min Read

يرجى كتابة التعليق قبل الإرسال