My class at the No Border school starts at 7:00 p.m. I've come a long distance, but I was accompanied by a spirit of wanting to serve. And that alone conquers all--or almost all.
First I have to get there. The Khora is at the big heart of Athens only 1.1 miles away, and I would much rather walk than deal with a taxi and a language barrier. I love walking through foreign cities, and this is Athens!! I map it out on googlemaps and am almost ready to go. Tony is nervous sending me out into the exotic streets, but I promise to power walk and text him when I arrive and when I leave. If it is dark by the time I finish, Please take a cab.
I begin my walk with that same sense of adventure I felt as a young girl. I pass through colorful neighborhoods, men in turbans and women in business clothes. All is well. Yet, there is one moment when I feel uncertainty--and my mother's writings come from a distant place to buoy me up. Just the week before she wrote: I will never forget when I heard Pat had struck out on her own in Paris.
I was visiting Paris as a sixteen year old and one morning went for a jog and couldn't find my way back--until--I met a nice French woman walking a dachshund. She directed me back to the hostel and all was well--but not for Mom who appropriately worried, although the news came in a letter after the fact.
So many years later, walking in Athens, her words return: I will never forget when I heard Pat... I throw my shoulders back and forge forward--This is who I am and who I will always be!
The NBS location will be at the Khora Community Center--a place for refugees to learn the language of Greece or the country in which they are assigned to. It's also a pre-school, a school to learn computers, a place to learn the social mores of the western world--a place where people can always find a meal. It was started by a remarkable group of international young people who were first on the ground in Lesvos, in Serbia, in Calais, and when they found a need in Athens, they made it happen.
Fourteen people arrive to learn about storytelling and creative writing and the application of both to help in the acquisition of a new language. The fourteen are from all over the world with names like Moona, Ryan, Angelos, and India. They are 20 years old, they are 60. We have two commonalities: the English language and the desire to help people learn it.
The No Border school was created by people who recognized the need of refugees who were landing in Athens without a country, without the language, without the right to attend the state school--again a remarkable group of people went into action and I have found them.
When I finish, I text Tony, On my way, class went well!
On the walk home, completely dependent on googlemaps to get me there, it ceases to work. Another moment of uncertainty, but my mother's surprise and confidence-in-me return. I feel my way back to Psiri. After making several wrong turns, but headed in the general and correct direction, I walk into to a full-of-life square I am familiar with; it is the way we walk almost everyday to the acropolis.
It is almost dark. Tony is waiting.