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Returning to school was a shock to the system. This involved new family wake-up times, meals and lunches prepared, uniforms, and new clothes bought. Shoes no longer fit because the children had grown so much

At last, the day arrived! Children came with shining eyes, eager to run into their teachers' arms but then heartbreaking reminders were given that those children had to use their elbows to greet their new teachers. Children no longer knew where their rooms were. They left school 19 months ago in Grade 1 and this year we're now in Grade 3! They had to learn about new buildings, classrooms, stairs, toilets, and a whole different playground.

What ecstatic joy seeing the children’s faces! Their sparkling eyes, full of eager anticipation peering over masks and also almost shy seeing their friends after so long. They looked at each other curiously and for others in disbelief. It did not take long, and singing was heard, giggles, laughter echoed in the hallways and classrooms. The antics of children in the sand, digging and building a mountain together with shovels.

May our children thrive and begin growing to reach their potential. May they run and learn in the way they used to be. Bless our teachers as they work every day to instruct the children how to continue to grow in their academic subjects, stay safe while maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and remain caring people to create a better and more peaceful world. Our future is in their hands

Returning to school was a shock to the system. This involved new family wake-up times, meals and lunches prepared, uniforms, and new clothes bought. Shoes no longer fit because the children had grown so much. The next day, children eagerly asked where their friends were. The city of Dhaka woke up to increased travelers on the road, with the hustle and bustle and noises of happy children. Parents were relieved of child duty and had some time to themselves.

Families are still worried about the possibility of increased transmission numbers, a national spike, and the effects this may have on their families. There is almost a resignation to the fate of this pandemic, its aggression, and its impact on the world. We have to get the children back to school and accept the risks. What we can do is protect ourselves. Everyone still needs to be careful and vigilant, wear masks, use sanitizer, use antigen tests, stay 2 meters apart, and stay home if there is the slightest indication of being ill. Despite all this, the children continued to build a taller and taller mountain in the sand, connecting, working together, and collaborating.

The aim is to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. Now is the time to respect our neighbors and classmates and their families. Let us demonstrate empathy and care as we open up our lives and homes and children to schools.

May our children thrive and begin growing to reach their potential. May they run and learn in the way they used to be. Bless our teachers as they work every day to instruct the children how to continue to grow in their academic subjects, stay safe while maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and remain caring people to create a better and more peaceful world. Our future is in their hands. We trust in you as families to keep us safe, and please, trust us as schools to take loving care of your children, the children of Dhaka. They are building a mountain.

* ­Vivian Huizenga is Primary Counselor, International School Dhaka

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