This is something that happens a little too frequently here on Leros. For my liking, yes, but also in terms of program rules.
As volunteers, we need to be careful about how close we become to the residents that we work with everyday. This is something that I will try to elaborate on more later as it is the background theme to almost everyday here on Leros for me (and probably everyone who comes here to volunteer). As a human being who thrives on connection, who values it beyond comparison, it feels the furthest from natural to attempt to distance myself from residents that I work with.
That being said, sometimes it’s unavoidable. For example, after class one day, probably two or three days into teaching, one of my students approached me as the others filed out of the room, and they handed me their phone. On the phone was a picture. This picture was of a dead body, face down in a pool of blood. As my eyes processed what I was looking at, he casually said, “sorry.” I was given no warning to what I was about to see. Then, he flipped past the photo and showed me a second picture, one of a man being pulled down the street by his feet by two soldiers. He also looked dead.
My student, from a troubled country in Africa, left his homeland because it was no longer safe for him. The two photos he had shown me were of his friends. He and I must both be under the same assumption that he would be killed if he were to return to his country. It’s stuff like this though, the unavoidable, that gets to me. I couldn’t have blocked this interaction if I tried. It was just going to happen. I had no say in the connection that was about to happen as the phone was handed to me. I now know part of his experience. A big part. And that’s that. Screw boundaries. But…still, boundaries. They exist for a reason. To protect them. To protect me. But, man, do those lines get blurry.
More on this in the very near future…