Are we but a drop in the ocean?
An Update from Ein Bustan, November 2007
Hello Dear Friends,
My name is Avner, and I am father to Agam, who is three and a half years old. I will write about the kindergarten from my own personal viewpoint. I think that's the best way to understand the spirit of Ein Bustan. Like many of the children, this is Agam’s first year in the kindergarten. I observed him in his first days in the kindergarten, surrounded by new faces and trying to figure out how to fit in. Along with him, I felt the unfamiliar atmosphere imparted by an unfamiliar language and the presence of children from a different culture.
But Agam was quicker than me to adapt. He came to the kindergarten free of the fears and stereotypes that were embedded in me somewhere in my childhood, in the educational system that I grew up with - fears and stereotypes that I have been trying to get rid of all my life. He made connections quickly, learning words and songs in Arabic. Enchanted, I look at him and think to myself: Why does living together in this country have to be so difficult? For it could be so simple - like these children in the kindergarten.
Now I understand why I am sending him to a bi-lingual kindergarten - beyond the ideological level, beyond the lofty idea that this kindergarten seeks to promote. I have a deeper understanding of the significance of sending Agam to such a kindergarten. My child will grow up to be a person with less fears and stereotypes than I. His Arab friends will also be able to grow up seeing the representative of the neighboring culture as a person like any other. These people will be able to live with each other in peace. Not because of a certain ideology, however, but stemming from an innate truth.
I understand this yet, I am a bit sad: this is but a drop in the ocean... So what if we have brought up a few dozen genuine peace seekers, out of hundreds of thousands of children that were not given this magical opportunity?
But then we start preparing for the benefit concert that was initiated by the musician Marvin Goldstein. All of the parents become involved in activities in preparation for the event. A wonderful festival is planned, to precede the concert. Various products are prepared for sale, activities for children are organized, we think of a marketing strategy, we encounter many obstacles- and overcome them - together. We think together, hope and dream together, work together. Friendships are formed, along with with mutual humor and shared memories. Faces are no longer just faces. Names are no longer just names. I have a deeper acquaintance of the people behind them.
And they are wonderful, each and every one of them.
The festival and concert were successful. It’s true that we raised some money, but that’s not the real success. This kindergarten, this aforementioned drop in the ocean, attracted hundreds of people from Kiryat Tivon, Hilf and the surrounding area, Arabs and Jews, that were drawn in to experience a different reality for a few magical hours. It’s hard to express this in words. But this reality, that seemed almost surreal in our local environment, conveyed one clear emotion: it is possible. I say emotion and not message, because I felt that the true power of the event went beyond the messages and ideas, as lofty as they may be. There were emotions there. Love.
The existence of this kindergarten is slowly but surely penetrating the local consciousness. Although only a few dozen families are directly involved, it is already in the mind of several thousands of families, as something positive, possible, and existing.My child and I, therefore, and all of the beloved families of the kindergarten are not just a drop in the sea. They represent significant energy that expands from day to day in ever-widening ripples. The kindergarten exists, and its truth exists.
In addition to these matters, I know that you will be glad to hear a bit of our news from the past three months. Initially this year, things were a bit chaotic. A new group was started, with children ages two and a half to three, with two new teachers: Eshel and Amna. In the older group a new teacher, Ibtisam, joined the veteran teacher Gidi. Many children left for first grade, and new children joined the kindergarten, each trying to find his or her place in the new social setting. The yard was far from ready, and there were many things to do. It took a while to find the correct balance and daily rhythm.
The kindergarten, however, is in capable hands. Calmly and surely, the teachers lead the kindergarten to the correct balance and rhythm. The lack of calm that characterized the beginning of the year has changed and things are quiet and serene. Wheat was planted and the first tender sprouts have already risen out of the earth. The children run happily back and forth, and feel very much at home.
We celebrated the Ramadan together, and erected a Succa (covered hut) during the Succot festival. Soon we will be celebrating Hannuka and Id El Adha. A listening circle for the kindergarten mothers met for the first time, and already we are considering a circle for the fathers, as well.
Sometimes, when I visit the kindergarten, I can’t help myself, and I hug Gidi. I don’t dare hug Ibtisam yet. I don’t know if that’s acceptable. I need to ask her. There is so much more I need to learn…
Winter will soon be here, and it looks like the kindergarten is ready to receive the winter season with a warm and comforting embrace, an embrace full of love.
Warm wishes to all our friends and supporters for the upcoming winter season,
and best wishes for a New Year of joy and peace.