I woke up far too early today (7 a.m.) to get a glimpse of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam’s primary school. I accompanied Peter Ongolo, my neighbor, to the 6th grade English class today.
Inside, there were 12 rambunctious kids, almost all Jewish, as the Arab kids were on holiday, some for Christmas, some for Eid al-Adha, the Muslim celebration retelling the story of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael. (sound familiar?)
In any event, the rambunctious Jewish class spoke in Hebrew amongst themselves as Peter tried to teach an English lesson, first using a game of hangman without the hanging, and then telling them a story and having them retell it. The process was challenging to say the least. Peter, originally from Kenya and living in Sweden, does not know Hebrew, so it made communicating difficult, though the students did have enough English to communicate. I believe there is normally a second teacher in the classroom, one who does know Hebrew, which would have made things easier.
At the end of class, they went into the building’s library, which is a large one-room space with a row of computers and bean bag chairs to sit in. The kids flew off their shoes, loudly running over to the books and playing amongst themselves before settling into the bean bag chairs to read for a little while. Well, read, poke and pester each other. The kids may be in a binational, bicultural school, but they were still 10 and 11 year olds, and they acted like it.
When the bell rang for break, the kids started putting on their shoes to leave. Two of the girls then asked me if I knew the Gilmore Girls show. I said yes, and then they said that they thought I looked like one of its characters. Coming from a 6th grader, I have no idea if this was a good or a bad thing, and I couldn’t ask them as they quickly hurried out of the room, giggling, after telling me this fact.
Now I’m off to interview some more people today, before joining an Arab Christian family for Christmas Eve. Should be fun.