Brinda G., Jenny L., Marcey G., Translation: Hanna K.
Friday was a "high" for Marcie, Jenny and me. We have three classes: girls, girls and boys. About 50 children eager to learn and teachers enthusiastic to teach with all their heart. Marcie prepared a lot of wonderful material and the bgoys were happy and pleased. Jenny was content to work with girls instead of with adults and the lesson was a merry acquaintanceship. I taught the elder girls a story of collecting and grammar through poetry. After the lessons we walked in the alleyways of the village accompanied by one of the students who helps us. On the way we bought vegetables, and were invited to the house of S. to participate in the mourning for her grandmother. We were welcomed warmly by all her family. Her father and her brother speak Hebrew, which enabled a heartwarming conversation with translations into Arabic for those who didn't understand.
Jenny, Marcie and I returned home after a good and fulfilling day. We are now waiting for next Friday.
Just to say what a wonderful morning I had with the delightful children in class and in company with Brinda and Marcey, getting to stroll around the village, have coffee, buy vegetables and feel a little more optimistic that maybe, just maybe, we can all learn to live together as people , with or without states!
Looking forward to next Friday
I'm still basking in the glow of last Friday's experience in Nbi Ilyas.
As an English teacher in the Israeli sector who mainly has negative interactions with recalcitrant learners, I was overwhelmed by the exceedingly positive response from the students in Nabi Ilyas. Two Fridays ago when I first met the students their affirmation of the "Free Palestine!" chant that spontaneously burst forth from me showed me what great intellectual spark exists in these kids, and this in spite of the Occupation.
So I decided to go all out and give these kids the best English education I could provide. I adopted the curriculum of the Longman Children's Picture Dictionary that I teach in Israeli schools to their needs by incorporating a story that I wrote about a child from Nabi Ilyas. Futnah from "Achram's Hummus" on Sheinkin St. in Tel Aviv, did me the favor of translating the new vocabulary words into Arabic. The children's reaction to the wealth of material that I brought to them was electric. The first lesson about colors and the sea included a memory game, chanting, reading, and writing and even if I didn't teach everyone something new, we all had the experience of "mind touching mind."
While some may see Nebi Ilyas as the quintessential Palestinian village: one small commercial street and cinder block houses encircling a hill top that open onto panoramic views of terraced olive groves, I, having been educated by Dr. Ruhama Marton when I was the English PHR person at Physicians for Human Rights some 20 years ago know that it is deliberate Israeli policy to deny Palestinians access to advanced elements of Western culture and technology. "De-development" was the term she used to describe the process of ensuring that residents of the West Bank would always remain on the other side of the techno-cultural divide. So what made this lesson so poignant for me was the juxtaposition between the technological barriers imposed by the Occupation and children's thirst for the knowledge that would enable them to overcome it.
In providing English instruction for these knowledge-hungry students I feel that I have found my niche. I am so grateful to Machsom Watch for giving me this opportunity to express myself as an educator-activist.