The Happiness in Her Eyes:
Why My Daughter is in Ein Bustan
By Jimlat Sa’adiya
Jimlat, mother of 4 year old Razal, is an Arab parent from the Ein Bustan kindergarten
My name is Jimlat and I am one of the very satisfied parents in the Ein Bustan kindergarten. Firstly, allow me to thank all of the staff for their efforts on behalf of each and every child. I wish them all much success, so that they may continue to give with all their heart. Many thanks to them all.
I wanted to share with you the reasons that I chose this kindergarten, and why I wanted my daughter to be one of the participants, despite the fact that many in our [Arab] society were against it, for various reasons. To be frank, I was very worried myself, in the beginning. I thought that it would be difficult for her to communicate with the Hebrew speakers. However, to my surprise, I would not be exaggerating if I told you that she communicates extremely well with them, she enjoys their company, and she is full of self-confidence and joy.
Now, I am extremely happy that I didn’t let people influence my decision, and she is in the kindergarten. It’s sufficient for me to see the happiness in her eyes each morning when she awakes: there are no words to describe her joy as he makes her way to the kindergarten to meet her friends, both Arabic speaking and Hebrew speaking.
Let me tell you some of the issues that interested me and which compelled me to send her to the wonderful group in the kindergarten.
For your information, I myself also work as a kindergarten teacher, in a Bedouin Arab school, however the teaching method where I work is completely different than [the Waldorf approach] which is used in Ein Bustan.
The goal is different, or to be more precise, the method of reaching the goal is different. In our schools [mainstream preschools and kindergartens in the Bedouin sector], unfortunately, and in all honesty, we overburden the children scholastically. We the teachers choose for the child and direct him to activities that are overly academic: the child should know his numbers and letters. If you should enter our kindergarten, you might think you are entering a primary school. In comparison, in the “Ein Bustan” kindergarten, the child is the center of importance. This is how it actually is, and not just slogans. In this educational approach, the child learns by himself: creating and drawing and through play arriving at conclusions, discovering many things…
A second issue is that of coexistence: we live in a country with two languages and two peoples that live as neighbors, living together…therefore I wanted my daughter to be aware of this from the beginning, to learn to respect the other, to learn the Hebrew language and to teach her through other children and friends. She should know that in the final estimate, we are all human beings.
In the beginning, I was worried about this matter, thinking that she would not understand, and that a long time would pass until she would be able to understand and communicate with [the Jews], but I was surprised when I saw her playing in the sandbox with one of the Hebrew-speaking children, and how they understand each other and learn all sorts of words from each other. Really lovely.
Another thing that I like: the number of children is small in comparison with the regular kindergartens in the Arab sector. In the Arab sector, classes start with between 25 to 35 children. Imagine that. Whereas in Ein Bustan, the numbers are small, strengthening the children and providing an atmosphere that allows them to be calm. Each child receives individual attention fit for a king.
Despite all of what I have told you about the kindergarten, I encountered difficulties - especially this year. Many of my friends and relatives attempted to dissuade me [from sending her to Ein Bustan] and persuade me to send her to a “regular” kindergarten. It was hard for us to pay the tuition. I wanted to continue my studies for a degree, and the kindergarten fees on top of my University tuition was quite a lot. My friends say: “What’s the matter with you? Are you crazy to put her in a kindergarten that you need to pay for- when you could register her for the [regular Arabic] kindergarten for free?”
I must admit: for a moment I considered it, and said to myself - why not? Maybe it will be easier for me…but my child was very attached to her friends and to the kindergarten teachers. Throughout all of the summer vacation, she drew pictures and dedicated them: this one is for Amna, this is for Gidi, this is for Yael and this is for Eitan* [teachers in both of the Ein Bustan kindergartens] She drew pictures for all of her friends - and even for her friend’s parents…
But truth be told: it is worthwhile paying and worthwhile to invest, no matter how much. Because the results I see are amazing. And it is enough that she is really happy and satisfied and loves to go each day to the kindergarten. The home visits among the children are quite lovely, and make them more and more happy to get to know and respect everything about the other side, and language skills improve in a simple and fun way.
In conclusion, I’d like to once more thank the staff, and I hope that they will continue in the process of building a school in this [Waldorf] approach. I am very hopeful that it will work out eventually, and that my daughter will be able to continue until the end of high school.
Translation: Rachel Gottlieb