I grew up in Jordan as an immigrant from Iraq. The first day I entered my high school classroom I was shocked -- food was everywhere on the floor, there were broken desks and tables, and kids were throwing papers at each other. The teacher just sat on his desk holding a cigar and drinking coffee and hitting anyone who was late or forgot homework.
I was often late because I couldn’t afford the money for a bus, so I had to walk. That was when my suffering began.
In Amman, Jordan, education mostly happened on the streets. I needed to support my family. I continued to wake up at 6 am, but then skipped school to work illegally as a trash picker. It was a disgusting job, but it paid me good money.
I walked from corner to corner to collect what could be sold, like metal or furniture, and then I would throw it in a truck. After six hours of sweating under the sun, we arrived at the storage facility, where we emptied the truck and were paid the equivalent of $15.
At the end of the day, I walked to the river so I could wash the smell off me.
Today, instead of running to gather garbage, I run from class to class to pursue my education. I wake up at 6 am excited for the opportunity to attend a school where teachers care about you and work hard because they want to see you succeed.