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Miki T, Lilka P, Gabriella C, Riki S, Nurit P, Adam R, Dvorka A (reporting)

After the school exams in the Palestinian Authority ended, we made a date with our Emtin hostesses to celebrate the season's end. We all teamed up to make it a happy occasion: Greetings and other words that each teacher prepared in English and Arabic, songs the girls had learned during their classes, amusing games, report cards, and refreshments. After a disppointing start and encouraging recuperation, we left the meeting in a happy mood.
In the course of the day the organizer P told us, through Nadim, that the meeting would take place in Baladiya rather than in the usual place. We came at 2:30 to prepare the party, and were soon followed by the organizer and several of the Palestinian activists, who brought soft drinks and coffee. We all expected several dozens of students. P told us that the meeting was announced in the villge over the mosque's loudspeaker. Apparently the students don't listen to these announcements. At 3pm, the announced time, only a handful were there. Our first thought was to activate plan B: shorten the greetings, give report cards to those who showed up, and wrap up. But as the moments passed, more and more students arrived, as well as some other women from Nurit P's Hebrew course.
By 4pm there were over 30 girls, and 12 of the older women, among them the activists who had assisted us during the school year. We reinstated the original plan. First some words of conclusion from each one of us in Arabic and English. Later Riki asked one of the women to read a poem by the Israeli/Palestinian poet Mahmud Taha about the Arabic farmer. The women seemed moved by the poem and appreciative of the gesture.
One of the older students asked to sing a song in English. It's theme was love and gratitude for her mother. The melody sounded familiar. (Who wrote it? Maybe the student herself?). For the rest of the program we decided that the classes would perform the songs they learned in the English classes, and Adam would teach us all one of the songs from Mary Poppins.
But plans notwithstanding, their execution met with opposition. One of the strongest women in the group objected to girls listening to a man singing, even to Adam, who used songs throughout his classes successfully. The others, men as well as women (the village head among them) saw no reason why the girls could not listen to a man singing, especially when the songs were in English. Adam found a solution: he recited just the lyrics, and everyone followed happily enough. Under her face covering, the "objector" also seemed happy when we all continued singing. We ended by giving report cards to all the students who showed up, and said our farewell with great warmth.

Immatin  10/06/2014

One problem remained, regarding religious prohibitions. Several months ago Rachel A and the local organizer in the women's club decided on two dates for excursions to the seashore on busses. Shortly thereafter it turned out that the earlier dissident, a Quran teacher, a very religious woman but one who holds no official role in the village, objects to the excursions, because they violate modest dress codes, and the prohibitions against public joymaking. The other women were saddened by this, but dared not oppose her. We, too, were saddened. Today however it seemed The matter had been settled. The village head himself would join the excursions against all objections, and we all hope we can find suitable rnative dates.
At the request of the organizer we agreed that two classes would continue their English lessons until the begninning of Ramadan.