Great teachers have two things in common, an exceptional level of devotion to their students, and the drive to inspire each one to learn and succeed.
The hands of time that have caressed Almase Hmeide Bayoud so gently stand silently on sentry duty guarding her beauty. Almase, 74 years of age today, has been teaching Arabic since 1961, starting in Ahliye and then moving to the Collège Protestant Français in 1976 until 2006 when she finally retired.
After her retirement, she pursued her real passion in life, which happens to be teaching and volunteered to teach Arabic at the St Jude’s Cancer Center. She still teaches there twice a week, spanning her career now for over 50 years. Almase holds her years like medals on her proud chest. Every line on her brightly lit face is time’s memory marked by her incandescent passion.
Not a very tall woman by nature, but by God she stands tall with her ethics and joie de vivre, and her intoxicating kind smile. Some people’s name define who they are, Almase, diamond in Arabic, is a true diamond and not in the rough. On her compassionate face time stands still, wondering whether this enthusiasm-evoker, wisdom-imparter, and student-encourager, will ever seize to take the time to slow down.
Salute to the teachers who take pride in educating a child. With that determination, many will leave a great impression upon the walks of life.
Almase is one of a kind, she is one of those teachers you never forget, forming strong relationships with her students and showing them that she cares about them as people. Warm, accessible, enthusiastic and caring, she masters her subject matter finding pleasure in building ever-lasting bonds with her students. The proof of that is a short walk with her on the streets of Beirut, where grown men, older women, younger ones, mothers, and girls and boys rush to her to embrace her, in hope of catching a glimpse of those fleeting wonderful school memories.
When women in our modern time struggle with their role in society and balancing the many roles that life imposes on them, here is a woman who makes it all look pretty easy. Almase not only is a dedicated mother, a loving grandmother, a supportive and active wife, a cook, a matriarch of the family, and crochet enthusiast, but also a woman who has taken pleasure in all the roles that life enforces on us along with a career spanning over 50 years. Who better to celebrate international women’s day with?
To the world she might be just a teacher but to those young hearts she touches at the Saint Jude’s Cancer Center, she is the whisper of anticipation of returning to school and a hope of a certain kind of normality. She rises with them above the harshness of their reality. She is who she is, and her smile is a reflection of her soul.
“Appreciation is a wonderful thing: it makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well” (Voltaire)… so here is to a great teacher and woman who has managed to balance it all with an invigorating smile and a grateful attitude to life, because the best gift that someone can give to life is their positivity.