A year has past and in our kindergarten, “Ein Bustan”, two new groups have opened: “the “little kindergarten” and the “big kindergarten”. I suspect these are but temporary names and with the formation of an additional group these names will become more formalised as well.
The younger group, which operates five days a week, has 10 children between the ages of two and half & three and half. Culturally, six of these children speak Hebrew, and four Arabic, though they are yet to master their mother tongue, which makes their play-time less dependent on words. Their teachers are Eshel, a resident of Tivon and Amana, a resident of Ka’abiya.
The second group, “the big kindergarten”, is largely based on the children from last year, (apart from those that were older and went on to other frameworks).Currently we remain with those between the ages of four and five, with several younger children aged three and half who recently joined them. Recently, Ibtisam, a resident of Zubidat has joined this group as teacher alongside Gidi. Sultana continues to work as a replacement teacher, as this kindergarten operates 6 days a week. This group has 14children, out of whom eight are Arabic speaking and six Hebrew speaking. Please note, that since there are more vacancies, we would be more than happy to fill them.
In order to facilitate the opening of another group, we built a new room during the summer, which meant the sandpit had to relocated. Many people contributed and helped in building this new room, circulating letters and partaking in this miraculous endeavour. Our supporters in the US and Holland organised concerts for fund-rasing and assisted in many other ways, all of which were instrumental in the building of the new room. However, as renovations are always more costly than anticipated, further support and contributions would be greatly appreciated. For this purpose we also intend to organise an additional concert in Tivon on the 21st of October, Please keep this date in mind, we will be happy to see you there. Marvin Goldstein from the US has been our generous patron, initiating these concerts. His support for our project stems from his own belief in the Waldorf method of bi-cultural education, to which he can closely relates to. Presently, we are organising a diverse musical programme, in which I hope to also be a participant in a group, where we will be playing Oud, Percussions, Piano and Flute. Many thanks to Marvin and all the organisers.
I would now like to share with you some of my thoughts regarding the near future. In actual fact, we will not have children graduating to first grade in the coming year, which allows us a bit more time to prepare before the question of a culturally mixed class becomes relevant once again. The recent requests by parents to have their children (two year-old) enrolled in the kindergarten, is an indication that we may face full capacity in the year ahead. As the majority of the children will be over three and half by then, we will have between 20-25 kids in the older kindergarten. Not to worry, however, we are able to cope with such demand, and would more than welcome anyone who wants to join us.
How then do we face such challenges? It is certainly possible that in the following year, we will have 5 children whose primary language is Arabic. If these children will study in “Shaked School”, then we must ask ourselves several questions: what is the nature of a mixed Waldorf class, and how should such a bi-lingual class operate? What is the number of children that can justify another teacher who is culturally Arab? Which language should the children learn to write first, perhaps each child according to his mother tongue? Many of you would certainly ask whether such decisions are in line with the “Waldorf” approach?
The opening of an Arabic speaking Waldorf school in Shfaram village provides an alternative for those Arab speaking students, but apart from the difficulties and logistics of travel, such a an alternative may in fact undermine what I see as a great opportunity. Our challenge, I believe, is to engage with more than superficial or even practical solutions. A more searching inquiry is required, perhaps we need to change ourself and open up to those around us? Should we not facilitate a dialogue and cultural interaction? After all, these children’s lives lie in the future, how than should we prepare them? Lastly, how should we take advantage of this opportunity to guide and be alongside the children in this exciting future ahead? Flexibility and moderation are required so that we can avoid hardening and inflexibility during our own lifetime.
Of course, these questions have been raised in previous forums, but the answers remain ahead of us. To my mind, we must continue to peruse these elusive and difficult issues, for denial and evasion will be our own downfall. Many of the teachers and parents have raised these concerns with me at different stages of the project, unfortunately I could rarely oblige because of time limitations—I regret this. I propose that this website be an arena for debate and conversation, where we can share our views and discuss them. What do you think of the bi-cultural education, Arab and Jewish? What is its importance to the Waldorf community? To peace in Israel? And perhaps even more ambitiously—world peace?
In my opinion, the Ein Bustan project is a unique initiative, that requires helping hands, generous hearts and intelligent minds to become a reality. To this end, this project and the kindergarten belong to the community, and moreover, they belong to all those people who love and support it, and to those who every now and again keep it in their hearts and mind.
The fact that the funding from the Education Ministry is still lingering makes the operation of our mixed kindergarten very difficult. The money we do receive must go into the debts from the recent renovations, all of which make it very hard for us as we embark on the new year. In addition, the routine activities of collecting donations, accountancy, maintaining the website and replying to emails demand time and resources. I therefore ask anyone who feels our project and efforts are worthwhile to contribute in whatever way. As little as half an hour a week of activities such as stitching dolls, repairing benches or assisting in any other craft is enormously helpful. Perhaps you have skills in carpentry, computer programming, web-design or any other skill, which may help—please get in touch with us. Finally, before you dispose of any item, think whether it can serve our kindergarten. Many items lying idle in your storage may be of great use to us.
I would like to share with you how just two days prior to the starting of the school year, while the committee members and I were busy dealing with administrative issues, the kindergarten’s backyard was still full of building debris… four wonderful people came to help. Full of enthusiasm, these people transformed the backyard within hours. I take this opportunity to express my deep gratitude to Itai, Shira, yoni and Nathaniel for their wonderful work, love and support, do come again, and bring your friends as well…..
Ultimately, from my perspective, the most important and valuable work in this bi-cultural Waldorf kindergarten has to do with things like how do we tell stories? How do we celebrate the holidays, sing songs, and create stories? Perhaps, we need to uses puppetry more often to bridge the language divide. But while questions remain, and we face many challenges ahead of us, these are also stimulating new ideas and, generating new thoughts, all of which I am grateful for. Of course, there are times where we feel exhausted, when funding is scarce or facing the bureaucracy, in a truly Kafkaesque fashion, as we have attempted to receive the government support we are entitled to over the past three years. But our resolve is strong, and if one of you happened to step into the celebration of Rosh Hashana, as a lively group of parents, carrying guitars, came to encourage and support us in our time of need, you would be overjoyed, as we were. I thank the parents, and all our supporters, and good-wishers, the motivated and committed teaching staff, and the committee. I feel privileged and grateful to be amongst you, participating in parent-night, holidays or general meetings.
Let me thank you all, the children, parents and all our devoted supporters, and wish us a very honey-sweet new year, full of good-deeds as the symbolic pomegranate, industrious as a bee and lively and sparkling as spring water.
Tax-exempt contributions to “Maayan Babustan” from the U.S. may be made through the New Israel Fund. The check should be made payable to “New Israel Fund”. The contributions should be marked as donor-advised to “Maayan Babustan”.Address in Washington:New Israel Fund, P.O.B. 91588, Washington DC, 20090-1588, U.S.A.
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Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved through understanding.
Maayan Babustan(Ein Bustan) POB 206, Kiryat Tivon 36011
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