Messages From Maryam is a story that has been on my heart for a long time. When I began my career as an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher, I couldn't wait to meet my Iraqi refugee students whom I had heard so much about! On my first day of school, I was filled with nervousness and anxiety. I would be spending the majority of my day with these children, and I didn't speak a word of Arabic. Luckily for me, these children were hard-working, studious, and well-behaved! They were thirsty for knowledge, and so was I.
As the weeks and months passed, I formed a unique bond with my students. Each morning, they would walk by my classroom, peeking inside, calling, "Good morning, miss!" As they acquired more and more English, our knowledge of each other grew. It is this small group of children that inspired Messages From Maryam and the characters that will soon be jumping off the pages at you!
While in the grand scheme of things, the process of publishing Messages From Maryam has gone relatively quickly, the release has been a long-anticipated event. Although I have told many people about this special story, I will be giving my first ever presentation on Messages From Maryam this Saturday, less than two months before the book is released! I will be speaking at the Virginia Teachers of Speakers of Other Languages Conference, which will be held at my Alma Mater, James Madison University. At the conference, I will be presenting about the story behind Messages From Maryam, how it was illustrated, the facts and fictional pieces in the book, and the uses it could serve in the classroom. It will also be the first time I have ever read an excerpt of the book to a large audience!
I am nervous but really looking forward to the conference this Saturday. I hope to get more and more people pumped up for the Messages From Maryam release on December 19!