I moved to London just over two months ago and have been working as a Communication Support Worker in and around our capital. Today was the first day in my new ‘English as a second language’ class. I was supporting a deaf girl whose first language was British Sign Language and today something amazing happened.
The room was heaving with people who had immigrated from around the world to set up a base in London. Some had been here for years, others simply months, one lady had been here for a mere four weeks. Within the class we looked at the importance of conversational skills which meant I was signing flat out for almost three hours yet despite this I was still mesmerised by the pull of our capital, all these students were so enthusiastic about learning more English in order to broaden their horizons here. It caused me to reflect upon my own situation, I’ve slipped into city life rather easily, firstly having English as my first language already puts me in a fantastic position, it’s not until you witness English being taught that you realise how complex it is. I also had a lot of friends already based in London and even family a short train ride away which I often over-look. The people in the class had given up entire lives, jobs, friends and family in search of a ‘better life’ in the UK. Maybe I’ve been taking it all for granted, maybe I’ve been selfish for constantly wanting to escape?
Following an intense twenty minute group discussion about money (payday loans, credit cards, bills etc) all giving one another advice on how to stretch the pounds further, one woman from Jamaica hesitantly raised her hand.
She timidly exclaimed that she intends to save up every single penny she can in order to pay for the flight back to Jamaica to start again from afresh. She spoke passionately (albeit in broken English) about the simple life out there and the unnecessary complexities she found over here. She described the vegetable patch she hopes to nurture and the power of the community spirit over there. Some of the other students instantaneously gasped in disbelief, why would someone want to leave this country that we have fought so hard to live in? A few solemn faces showcased a mutual desire to flee this mechanical system, mine alike. Having spent a few weeks volunteering on an Eco-farm in Sweden I knew how magical daily life was when you are truly self-sufficient. The Jamaican lady went on to ask in other words ‘What are we all hankering for? More? More?’ There was a long pause of silence filled only with puzzled looks and pondering minds. She had certainly refuelled the burning desire to find a simpler way of life in myself. That night I preliminarily booked a trip to a healing retreat in Peru for a month next year, I doubt I’ll ever truly be able to leave this country but the longer I’m away from it, the more I’ll just be me.