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Teach & Love!

by Anita Khoder - Feb 13,2020
Teach & Love!
By Anita Khoder, Teach For Lebanon Cohort 1 Alumna

It was my last year of university; I was pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature at the Lebanese University. I still remember it like it was yesterday. One morning, our Professor came to class and told us about a new NGO whose aim was to reduce educational inequity while developing the leadership of youth. That same day, I filled the application to join the Teach For Lebanon (TFL) Fellowship program.
Little did I know that my life would change so much in such a short amount of time and in such a great way...

After my application, I received a call from the recruitment team inviting me to participate in the “Assessment Day”. I was so thrilled with that phone call but also very nervous, as it was my first job interview ever.
My happiness was unmatched when I was selected to join the first cohort of TFL Fellows. I was placed at “Al Irfan” in Dahr Al Ahmar, North of Lebanon, to teach English to Grades 1, 2 and 3. 

It was during that first year as a teaching Fellow that I was fortunate to participate in a conference organized by Teach For All, the global network that TFL is part of. It was in New York City, at the “New Yorker” Hotel. The conference was intended to bring Fellows and Staff members from partner organizations together, to address topics that were vital to reducing educational inequity.

I met people from all over the world at that conference. Including Franco, who would become my husband and partner for life.

I remember seeing Franco a couple of times during the conference but it wasn’t until the last day that we actually spoke together. It was a Friday, I was sitting alone, writing down my learnings from the intense four days I had just experienced, when all of a sudden I heard a shy “Hi”. I turned around, and there he was.
We talked for hours about the educational systems in our countries. He was the co-founder of “Enseña Peru” (Teach For Peru). We also spoke about our families and our values. The next morning, I went back to Lebanon, and we didn’t speak for more than a month.

Then one day, we both found each other online at the same time, on Skype. I don’t remember who initiated the first conversation, but what I am sure of is that we started chatting every single day since. We laughed a lot, shared a lot, listened to each other and fell deeply in Love. A year after our encounter in NYC, we decided to meet in person again and chose India as our destination.

I came back from India with a ring on my finger and anxious to reveal to my parents and family that I was engaged. My parents were shocked.
This is not how we did things in Lebanon! It was definitely not how my four sisters got engaged (I was the youngest of 5).

My two-year Fellowship with Teach For Lebanon ended in 2011, and that summer, Franco came to Lebanon to ask for my hand in marriage. We were both so happy when we received my parents’ blessing. When I later asked Franco what he felt when he entered our house for the first time and met my family, he said, “I felt home”. I still think of that sometimes, and it warms my heart. 
Franco and I tied the knot in Peru on November 25, 2011. My family attended the wedding on Skype (did I mention how much I Love Skype?).
We welcomed our beloved baby girl “Elya” on October 15, 2014, and she brought us so much happiness. Last year Franco, Elya and I took a trip to NYC and went to the New Yorker Hotel and sat in the same spot where we had our first chat 9 years ago. 

Teach for Lebanon will always have a special place in my heart. I can recount endless anecdotes that happened in the classroom with my students and endless reflections and lessons learned, also I am and will always be humbled with the generosity and love I received from the community of Dahr Al Ahmar and the bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood I built with my fellow colleagues. I will forever be thankful!

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