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Kiet Engels is the kind of teacher you’d wish for every schoolchild. She is strict but never harsh. She is loving but never soft. Her patience is endless.
Miss Kiet’s pupils have only just arrived in the Netherlands. Many of them are refugees. Everything is new for them and confusing. Some are quarrelsome and stubborn to start with. Miss Kiet’s firm but loving hand brings peacefulness and awakens their interest. She not only teaches the children to read and write Dutch, she also helps them to learn to solve problems together and to respect one another. Gradually the children gain skills and confidence.
Haya is at first impetuous, yet fearful. Little by little, Miss Kiet helps her to find her friendly side. Leanne is quiet and lonely. But after a few months she’s able to tell everyone, in Dutch, that she loves Branche. Jorj has trouble sleeping and is unruly. His little brother Maksem has terrible nightmares. Miss Kiet helps Jorj discover that learning can be worthwhile and even fun.
By observation alone, without interviews or voice-over, the film focuses on four children of different nationalities. Through their eyes, the camera follows their struggles to learn a new language, their fights, their friendships and their first loves at close hand.
By the end of the documentary, an affectionate community has grown – the fruit of a teacher’s patience and dedication. A film with many touching moments, some of them hilarious, Miss Kiet’s Children chronicles changes that are small and immense at the same time.