Stop press blogger

“They’re finally here! For so long now this programme has been haunted with various problems when it comes to getting all of the participants gathered in Oxford together, that the fact that we have just been joined by the group of students from the refugee camps in Tindouf somehow seemed unreal when we were notified.

“But this is in fact exactly what has happened. About an hour ago, just seconds before our traditional “group dialogue” was about to begin we were told that the new participants had arrived. And not just in Great Britain either; but here at the school! In one jumbled group we ran outside to greet them, and when I finally saw the students coming out of the blue van parked by the school’s main entrance it all became real.

“For me the surprise was double, as I suddenly realized that I knew one of the guys from my time as a voluntary English teacher in the refugee camps. It was so strange to suddenly stand face to face with a person you have only met in a completely different setting, and who you said goodbye to months ago with the uncertainty of whether you would ever meet this person again.

“Happiness, excitement and nervousness are all fighting for a place in my stomach right now, as I feel that in some sense that everything has changed. For over a week we have talked about the students we were missing, those who for various reasons had not been able to join us. We have had questions about them, felt curiosity and empathy with whatever problems they have faced on their journey here and we have in some sense missed them.

“Therefore it is absolutely amazing to finally stand face to face with some of them. To be able to shake their hands and wish them a warm welcome amongst us.”

“On the other hand it also underlines the fact that we are still not full numbered; that we are still missing important parts of what was supposed to be our group, and I think that those students who are still not with us will be in our thoughts and hearts throughout this course.”

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