I want to take this opportunity to thank you again for helping to support Teaching in a Village Under Demolition Orders through your generous donations and concern! I have good news and bad news.
The good news is that everyone in Al Aqaba really appreciated our first English teacher, Kali Rubaii; see Kali's report below with photos. Kali taught children, two groups of teens, and an adult group -- and her classes kept growing as her reputation spread! Even a group of bank tellers in the neighboring town of Tubas asked to attend English classes in Al Aqaba! Our second English teacher, Morgan Bach, just arrived in Al Aqaba last Thursday.
We wondered if Morgan would be able to arrive because early that morning, the Israeli Army closed Al Aqaba Village and demolished the home of three families, the Peace Road, a water cistern and one other road. This was the 2nd demolition of the Peace Road. We heard about it early and did our best to call the U.S. Embassy and Consulate, and the consulates of other countries, to ask their help to make this stop. Our board member, Souzan Jaber, was there waiting outside the village with the Governor of Tubas who was also barred from entry. When the soldiers left the village, the destruction along the Eastern side of town was clear to see. Heartbreaking.
Despite this, Kali's report describes the sense of hope that people of Al Aqaba, especially the young people, hold in their hearts. I know you share that determination.
Rudy San Miguel
This summer I taught English courses in Al Aqaba. I taught about 60 students: 20 girls ages 9-12, 20 young boys ages 14-16, and 20 adults (mostly University students and local farmers and shepherds) ages 18-50. For the younger students, we covered many topics, often using songs and dances to understand colors and numbers (The Very Hungry Caterpillar was perfect for this), or the parts of the human body (Head Shoulders Knees and Toes and Simona Says were big hits!). Eventually each student practiced leading the rest of the class in song. My favorite lesson for the children's classes was a week-long drawing exercise in which they drew their house or dream house and then labeled the parts of their drawing. Each student presented their house and some information about themselves to the whole class to practice public speaking. I was impressed by their vivid descriptions of beautifully designed homes, complete with flower vases, colorful roofs, and tree-filled yards. During the first lesson of the adult class, I asked students to tell me about their childhoods and was confronted with an urgent question from a young man in the back of the room, who later described himself as a poet: "I can tell you about my childhood, but what are your hopes and dreams, Miss?" I quickly learned that while one's childhood is certainly of importance, Al Aqaba's youth are more preoccupied with shaping their futures and realizing their dreams. After mastering the basics of the past preterit, imperfect, and past progressives tenses, we eagerly jumped into the future, subjunctive, and conditional tenses. We worked on detailed letters to American penpals at UCSC in California that describe the conditions of living under occupation as well as the hopes and dreams of each young man in the class. We drafted high quality English resumes in anticipation of those futures, delved into topics of refugeeness, longing, and land ownership, recited a poem by Mahmoud Darwish, and were lucky to have 2 American guests visit for a day of intensive conversational English practice. I had so much fun teaching English and learning Arabic from these intelligent, motivated young people. My biggest challenge with the students was the fact that as the summer progressed, my classes kept getting bigger and bigger, and it seemed I never had enough copies of handouts! We faced other challenges, as well, however: our conversations in class were often interrupted by the deafening sound of jets flying overhead the Israeli military training camp next door. My very first day in the village, an Israeli administrator arrived to photograph the newly re-paved road that had been demolished in May (the village mayor, Haj Sami, was visibly anxious about the potential for a second demolition). I was aware that at any moment the school, under demolition order like most of the buildings in the village, might be bulldozed: this reality naturally generated a sense of anxiety about the future. I was impressed by how defiantly students did not allow this to interfere with their English learning, their sense of humor, or their insistence on mastering the future tense both linguistically and in their lives. Inshalla, I will be back next summer to teach English and continue my fieldwork as an Anthropologist in Al Aqaba.
I just wanted to announce an exciting update concerning this project. You've sent a teacher to Al Aqaba!
Her name is Kali Rubaii. She arrived in Al Aqaba yesterday and she will be teaching English at the children's summer camp. Kali has been volunteering with the Rebuilding Alliance for several months. When this opportunity became available, she was excited to participate and make a difference for the children in Al Aqaba.
Kali has previously taught beginning and intermediate English to Iraqi refugees in Amman, Jordan. She has ten years of experience working in childcare and three years of experience tutoring students in language skills. She received a BA in International Relations from UC Davis and now is a candidate for a PhD in Sociocultural Anthropology at UC Santa Cruz. She was an active member of the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network; including chapter president, student advisor, and chapter policy advisor. She has also won many academic awards including a National Science Foundation Research Grant, the Cota-Robles Fellow for UC Santa Cruz, and 1st place in the UC Davis Prized Writing competition.
Kali will also be volunteering for our Architectual Design Charette that will be held in Al Aqaba near the end of this month. The Charette’s goal is to bring together architects and designers with villagers to design affordable, eco-friendly homes for families who want to return to Al Aqaba. To read more about this project, click on this link: http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/rebuilding-palestine/
Thank you as always for your continued contributions. None of these projects could happen without your support.
Greetings from Rebuilding Alliance!
As donor to Rebuilding Alliance’s Teaching in a Village Under Demolition Orders project, we would like to thank you for your kindness and generosity.
I am writing to let you know that we have some exciting news. First, because of your generosity two American teachers are heading to Al Aqaba. One of them, Kali Rubaii, will be soon is en route to join in Al Aqaba in July for summer camp!
Second, a Rebuilding Alliance team will be walking the halls of Congress on behalf of your commitment to the kindergarten of Al Aqaba. We will ask Senators and Congressmen to intervene to urge the Government of Israel to open and repave the road so that the kindergarteners can get to school without delays.
Third, GlobalGiving has opened up a competition to help projects get reliable monthly funding.
Do you know that it costs $320 a month to pay a Palestinian teacher’s salary in Al Aqaba village? So far, our grant covers one month of salary. We would like to fund a teacher for a whole year. Could you help make a monthly recurring donation of $20? If 16 donors contribute $20 every month, we’ll have it! This is an opportunity for you to make a long term difference for the children of Al Aqaba. I invite you to setup your reoccurring donation for Teaching in a Village Under Demolition Orders today.
GlobalGiving’s Recurring Donation Campaign lasts until May 20th. By signing up for a recurring donation now, you can help this project qualify for an additional $1,500! Please give before the end of the day Friday, May 20 EST.
Please select the “Recurring option” under the big orange “donate” button. Click here
Thank you again. We hope that through your thoughtful contributions we can fund one more kindergarten teacher through the year ahead.
Rudolfo San Miguel
PS: As always feel free to send me any questions.
My name is Rudolfo San Miguel. I have been volunteering with Rebuilding Alliance for close to a year now and I am proud of the work we have done. I am delighted to be invited to join the staff part-time to provide monthly status reports for each of our projects on GlobalGiving. My background is in Technical and Professional Writing. When deciding on a career path, I felt the need to focus my work in support of important nonprofits like the Rebuilding Alliance. Unfortunately, I am writing today with news that is not good. On Thursday morning, April 7th, kindergarteners looked on from their school bus as Israeli soldiers barricaded access to, and then destroyed, several sections of the Peace Road, the main road in and out of Al Aqaba village. Al Aqaba is a tranquil and conflict-free village in the West Bank, where villagers have worked together to prevent total demolition over the past 20 years. Now piles of concrete and dirt from the bulldozed road force the village's only school bus, which was already straining to meet the transportation needs of 200 children, to take a long detour several times daily. To say nothing of the psychological impact this situation has had on these young kids, they now have a another obstacle in the way of their education.
In response, the Rebuilding Alliance is asking everyone to sign our petition, "Open the Road to Al Aqaba, Pave the Road to Peace". Our goal is to ask our elected officials to contact the Israeli Embassy and urge the State of Israel to fix what their army destroyed. Please sign the petition! If you have 15 minutes more, please call the senior staffer for foreign policy at your legislator's office. The Rebuilding Alliance will travel to Washington D.C. in May to knock on the doors of our Congress-people to ask for their support, won't you call ahead and announce our visit? Let's get that road fixed by the end of summer! Sign here: http://www.change.org/petitions/open-the-road-to-al-aqaba-brpave-the-road-to-peace Please call me at 1 650 325-4663 or email me at Rudolfo@RebuildingAlliance.org as questions arise. You can learn more about the situation by reading our web page, www.RebuildingAlliance.org. I hope that despite this setback, you will continue to support our projects. I know the villagers deeply appreciate your commitment to them in this time of challenge and need. Sincerely, Rudolfo San Miguel
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