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Stuck in the Middle: Universal Language of Play

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Stuck in the Middle: Universal Language of Play
by Kal Russell - Thursday, 23 February 2017, 10:11 AM

Stuck in the Middle: Universal Language of Play

This past month we were fortunate to have a new student join our school and community.  The young man and his family are Syrian refugees and they are all extremely excited about being in Canada.  We have had several students come to our school from other countries in the past and I am always amazed at two things.

One is how excited they are to be in school.  These students are always very anxious and appreciative to learn not only from their teachers but also from their classmates. 

As students that grow up in Canada, and more specifically the Greater Victoria area, we sometimes take our lifestyle and Canadian rights for granted. That often includes school and the opportunity that we have to learn.  Hopefully, all our students can learn from our new students that going to a safe school, with professional teachers who care and help you learn, is not a chore, but a wonderful opportunity.  We are very fortunate to live on Vancouver Island!

The other thing I always notice is how quickly new students fit in when it comes to play.  Play is the universal language of childhood. 

Last week, our grade 8 Playground Pals leadership group put on a mass dodgeball game at lunch for all interested grade 6 and 7 students.  The gym was absolutely packed with vibrating students ready for a half-hour of chucking and ducking dodgeball action.  Our new student entered the gym cautiously and stood on the periphery of the gym while he surveyed the action. Now English and the Canadian culture are still very new for him, so I was not surprised that he stood on the edge of the gym and watched.  What surprised me was how little time it took him to figure out what was going on and how to play.  One minute and 14 seconds passed before he ventured onto the floor.  At first, he was cautious and dodged balls from the back, but by the end of the game, he was at the front of the court throwing the ball as hard as he could muster. 

What happened next was what cements the fact that play is universal.  He slid for a loose ball, tugged it away from a teammate who had grabbed it at the same time, jumped to his feet to quickly and threw it hitting an opponent in the leg. The opponent, however; did not leave the game. 

Our new student ran across the line, got his opponent’s attention and pointed to the part of the leg where he had been hit.  He then said, “Out” while pointing him to the sideline.  The opponent left the game, and then our new student headed back to his own side where he immediately got drilled by a ball.  He headed to the sideline with a huge smile on his face and hopefully the feeling that he had found a new home at North Saanich. 

At North Saanich Middle School it does not matter where you were born, where you have lived or where you have gone to school; we all have a wonderful opportunity to learn with and from each other.  And when it comes to dodgeball,  if you get hit by the ball you are ‘Out!’  Sometimes being “out” also means you are included!

Go Hawks!