My name is Amal. I am a teacher by profession, and I live in the Bedouin village *Zarzir. I am the mother of three children : Areen, 8, Aleen, 5, and Tayim, age 3. Areen is in the pilot Class 1 in Ein Bustan, Aleen is in the kindergarten, and Tayim will be joining the kindergarten next year.
How did I become part of Ein Bustan?
After the birth of my eldest daughter, Areen, I started to think about where she would go to school. This question worried me quite a bit. I remember sharing my concern about her schooling with someone from Zarzir, and he recommended a kindergarten [Ein Bustan] in the village of Hilf: a joint Arab-Jewish kindergarten. I told him that it would be wonderful if there was something similar that was closer by, but unfortunately - this was too far away for me. Over the next 2 years, I registered Areen for kindergartens that were in our village, first in one that was run by the local a council and later in a privately run one, but I didn’t stop yearning for a kindergarten of a different kind, one that would truly be “right” for us…When Areen was 5 years old, my sister started working in an Arab-Jewish kindergarten in Haifa, and she registered her own son in Ein Bustan, in Hilf. With the advantage of transportation, it seemed like an excellent opportunity to have my daughter Areen join her cousin in Ein Bustan.
Beginnings were difficult. Since Areen was used to kindergartens in her mother tongue (Arabic), she was unused to the Hebrew language and asked me : “Why can’t I understand what they are saying to me?”. We overcame the difficulties with the help of the lovely teachers, and soon Areen acclimated well into the kindergarten. The following year, Areen was already 6 years old, and all of her peers in the village were going into first grade, but she wasn’t…she refused to stay in kindergarten another year and longed to start school. But where was she to go to school? Ein Bustan didn’t have a school yet! What were we to do? I decided to give her another year of kindergarten in Ein Bustan, and during this formative year, a group of the “Ein Bustan Family” (parents, teachers and staff) started to meet regularly to prepare the way for a first pilot class, the beginning of the Ein Bustan school. I will never forget this experience. From the moment that I started to become actively involved, I felt that the “Ein Bustn” family is like my own, and I felt that the first grade classroom was like a room in my own house. With effort, willpower and belief - we opened the first class!
Ein Bustan gives me hope, and enables me to discover who I am and what I want.
There are many who say: “We are against racism”. Against the separation between two cultures, Arabs and Jews…but it is not enough just to make statements. Action is necessary. People need to join frameworks like Ein Bustan, in order to feel that Arabs and Jews can do things together, and in order to see with their own eyes how the children live together, celebrate festivals together. Ein Bustan is creating a change in society and enabling people to get to know the Other. I have great confidence in Ein Bustan and I fully believe that we will have a bi-lingual Arab-Jewish school.
*Zarzir is a Bedouin village in the Jezreel valley, (pop. 7000) populated by 5 Bedouin tribes. It is about half an hour drive from Hilf.
Translation: Rachel Gottlieb
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