These are Fatima's hands.
Fatima is a high school student who's landed a spot in my morning class. Although she let me photograph her hands, capturing her face would be out of the question.
Being back here in the emirates is strange, the babble of Arabic and the colourless landscape become so familiar so fast, we feel we've never left. Is that good or bad? We'll let you know.
Very little has changed here over the last year. We were picked up by the same driver we had a year ago, (although our villa has changed.) We were greeted at ADU by the same smiles and hugs we exchanged a year ago when we said goodbye. We moved back into the same classrooms and greeted the girls, with their hennaed hands clutching their precious cell phones, the familiar scent of Oud, and of course - their yards and yards of shifting black fabric.
And just like last year, the majority of girls could not care less about us, we just get in the way of their socializing with our pesky "lesson plans" and silly blabber about "verbs" and "adjectives".
But there are a few who do care; mostly the girls in the morning classes. Rana takes home every handout she receives and recopies them into a huge book in multi-coloured pens. Amna makes little vocab flash cards for herself. These girls are such a lovely change from... say Reem, who flipped me a dismissive, "Whatever!", when I asked her to come to class on time, or Samoya, who snapped a sharp, "So do you!", when I told her group they talk to much. Unfortunately there are far more Reem's than Rana's. Nothing has changed there either.
I hope to be able to catch up on all the things I want to write about. There's a wedding, and a restaurant, a special student and some very cool people here this year. And then there are the girls. Know-it-all teenagers who want for nothing more than to talk to the boys they are forbidden to be in the same room with.