Chloe, ?, Lille
Travelling in from Lille each day to run the adult language school
"I was employed as a housekeeper in a hotel in Paris and doing winter seasons in the alps. I am a french teacher here and when we need I am english teacher!
We offer English and french teaching and we see the place not like a learning centre but more about sharing culture and ideas and to know more about French, English and kurdish culture. We want to share some moments with the Kurdish and try to understand each other even if the language is not so good we try to make it work
At first they don’t want to stay in France because what they see about France is the police and they think that in the UK it’s not going to be like this. I was the first French (teacher) in the school so at the beginning everyone wants to go to the UK, and then they learn French and meet more French volunteers and so they think maybe they can stay in France but the biggest problem is that they all have friends and relatives in the UK so if they stay in france they will be alone and there is a family pressure for them to go to the UK in Kurdistan.
They think they will come to the uk and they will have job and they will meet their friends and everything will be easy. I think it’s harder than what they expect.
I’ve been here since the opening of the new camp, so 7 weeks. I am living in Lille (one hour away). I have some friends with MSF so sometimes I sleep in Dunkirk but I am starting to be really tired - it has been a lot of energy and I have some strong relationships with some refugeees here and most of them are going to the UK so I lose my team and it starts to be hard.
We saw each other every day and so we were hanging around next to the school on the terrrace so we started to make really strong relationships. And they trust me (I don’t trust everybody) but I know who I can trust so we have many discussion and we share a part of our lives.
There is one yesterday who arrived in the UK and there is one on the ship right now that we love. And there is one two weeks ago who went to Marseille. I just know the story of the poeple who are coming to the school.
We see the difference between the first group, level one, they know how to speak English, they are really well educated. The second level is Zero so they don’t know how to speak English sometimes they don’t know the Latin alphabet. They don’t have the same reactions, for example the relationship between men and women is different. We don’t have any problems at all but you just see in the eye the way they look at you and it’s not the same.
I wanted to be involved in this crisis and I was giving food. I didn’t like the relationship between the refugees and us. It was just like ‘can i have tea’, and i didn’t like that. I wanted to know more about them. At the beginning I was coming two or three days a week and I was the only French and I loved it. I met some refugee friends and I couldn’t come just two or three times a week - I had to be there all week so that’s why I’m here every day every week!
I will stay until september but it takes a lot of time and energy and it’s not my job, teaching, and I don’t get paid, it’s like my free time and I cannot do anything else. I ‘m so busy working here but maybe i will stay shorter.
There are a lot of volunteers coming every day but want continuity in our courses and if the teacher is changing every day [refugees] won’t come every day. They like the way you do it or teach and they get attached. The volunteers who are here for a short period really have a false idea of what is going on here. One guy who was supposed to stay one week stayed two weeks. He said ‘it’s so cool I will come back. I’ve been to so many parties and met so many friends’. I said there are also lots of refugees in Paris. He said ‘yes, but that is really less cool than coming here.’ Do you speak to refugees? I asked. ‘Not so much’
There is no mud anymore, people are kind of happy. Although Not in their mind. Still fucked up. It’s just a mess. In the weekend we close the school and on Monday people are coming back to school having spent the weekend thinking and thinking all the time the same questions. Am I going to the UK? Do I have enough money? Always always thinking. They are really fucked up. Not mental disease but they are suffering a lot, really.
I saw a drawing from Calais and it was some children playing and the guy wrote ‘we don’t need candies we perspective’. Thats really what they need.
Sometimes the NGOs come bringing chocolate, like for Easter, but this is making things worse because they are all coming and fighting for one piece of chocolate and it’s dehumanising. They try to do good stuff but in my point of view this is worse. Children are coming to you and they think everything is free because people are coming with supplies . We are giving them stuff but they don’t need that - they just need to go to the UK. Most important is to speak, to share, and understanding".