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December 2, 2013
Ruth and Sam's Blog from Ibillin

Chapter Nine

There were not many events here this week, unlike Thanksgiving Week in Whitefish or Richmond.  There were only two minor events in the guesthouse, and neither was on the calendar.  Sara arranged a Thanksgiving Dinner on Thursday which ultimately involved Emil (an English teacher), Elias A.G., the principal of the High School, two students and a history teacher.  The meal, pictured below, appeared out of nowhere.  It involved two stuffed fowl of some kind (either small turkeys or big chickens) and the usual array of vegetables and salads.
Ibillin Thanksgiving It was not like Thanksgiving in the US, since none of us had families there, and Badiya had done all the cooking.  Furthermose, this was during the afternoon break, so the faculty and students didn't even have time for the usual Arabic Coffee and sweets before they had to return to classes.  The conversation lagged at the beginning, when we asked the history teacher if he taught anything about Iran.  After a few ragged sentences on both sides, we began to see his dilemma.  It is like evolution in Texas.  The paramount goal is for students to pass final exams at a high enough level so that they are assured University Entrance.  Thus history teaching must conform to what is taught in all schools, and that is determined to some extent by government policy.  I only asked about one item  - the bombing of the King David Hotel in 1946.  He said it gets onlypart of a small paragraph in a big history book.  

Our efforts at the school were varied and busy.  At least here the pen-pal program is growing rapidly.  The first twelve students who received pictures and letters from the US (specifically from the Richmond Friends School 4,5,6 grades) were the envy of the class, and Ruth found herself in the eye of a hurricane during free times in the Library.  It is mostly organized now,  but we have resorted to inviting some children (in small numbers) up to the guesthouse to write letters in quiet.

In other areas - we have led two classes of older girls in folk dancing.  We have solved most of the music problems, thanks to some long-range transmissions from Montana and the great help of Musa, the person who knows the PA systems best.  We don't have photos of our dancers yet, for reasons that will be explained later.  The dancing is new to them and they are very enthusiastic.  They applaud after each dance and thank us warmly at the end of class.  Definitely an upper.

We were asked by a tenth grade teacher to give a program on Iran.  We assumed, from our other experiences that this would be a class of 20 or so, fairly good at English, and pretty attentive.  It is good here to make no assumptions.  We encountered about 50 students in a regularly-sized, and moderately ventillated room. Some students were attentive, some bored, and many talking since our English made little sense to them.  Furthermore I was running our power point presentation off an unfamiliar computer,  The students were friendly, and thanked us when we were done - a few, we like to think, actually understood and followed what were doing.   It was a lot like an experience we had at Richmond High, except for the fact that when the bell rang, the Mar Elias students waited for us to finish, applauded, and thanked us as they left.  

One surprise during the week was a demonstration between classes in support of students were put in prison for attacking and killing an Israeli soldier who had killed twelve and injured many more when he opened fire with his machine gun in a crowded bus in the Arab city of Shefra'am (next to Ibillin).  Their appeal is being heard this week.  Some call it lynching, some call it self-defense.  It is a complicated issue that you can read about here.
Our Class  Demonstration
The class for our Iran Presentation                                           Student Demonsrration

We hosted another visit of the local NCW group on Saturday, with about 1 hour's notice.  It was much like the event that took us by surprise three weeks ago in Chapter 6.  The had bible study, a service and snacks and left without a trace at about 10:00.  The only problem for us was that there were four small children roaming about the building un-supervised,  and Ruth was pretty worn out after 6 hours of baby sitting.

I should insert the fact that we tried to dance Israeli dances at the Misgav Center (Misgav is the Jewish "county" in this region.  It provides services like garbage collection, street repairs, and recreation facilities for the Jewish communities nearby.  It carefully excludes any predominately Arab villages.)  We had a ride all worked out, but when we tried to leave we found out two things - our flashlight didn't work, and we could not unlock the door.  We did not dance, in fact we could not leave the building until school opened the next morning.

Sunday we took an excursion to Haifa, which turned out to be rather expensive.  The intent was to buy music stands for the steel drummers (see chapter one) who practice for two hours once a week, but who spend a third of the time watching the teacher write out the notes on the board. Anyway, we took the bus to Haifa and got off at the central bus station, which seemed to be in an industrial part of town, next to a very large and incomprehensible shopping mall.  It turned out that the music store, in fact two, were across the street from the mall, by chance we stumbled into one.  Ruth managed to get a 12% discount, still eight rather small stands cost about $25 each.  Pretty high!  We went on into Haifa on a free bus, but Ruth left the camera behind.  We tried to check likely drivers and buses at the terminal with no success, and then bought another camera for $127 (with charger and card).  Finally we went into a school supply store for something and came out with a flashlight ($4) and batteries ($7).  We ate lunch in a howling wind (the local Arabic word for wind is huley) and headed home.

On the way we asked someone about the train station and he pointed to the mall, so we went in - with some difficulty.  We could find no entry except through the parking lot.  We passed a check point upon entry and the man checked Ruth's bag but not mine.  We saw several parallel lines of people passing under signs in Arabic and Hebrew so we thought "These people are boarding trains".  We almost ended up in a movie theater.  We kept trying, passing an abyss of absolute mayhem where parents and their small children were sort of turning to butter on a small, crowded carpet.  Finally we saw a narrow door with another check point.  That was the train station.

We walked back through the mayhem and found a way out, then picked up the music stands and waited for bus 166 to Ibillin.  Funny how comfortable we felt when we found others traveling to Ibillin or Shef'aram at the bus stop.  

Here are a few pictures of our day in Haifa:

Haifa Camera Shop  Haifa Street  Cruise and Seghs
Photo Shop                                         Street outside Photo Shop                        Seghs and Cruise Ship
Haifa Street 2  Haifa Street 3  Haifa Mayhem1
Haifa Street Scenes                                                     Mayhem from a Distance

Haifa Real Mayhem             Mall Movies from Bus Stop
Mayhem Up Close                                                           Theater from Bus Stop
We returned home safely, and thankfully climbed the hill to our home in Ibillin.  We do better in small towns.

As for the flashlight, I carefully put new batteries in the old flashlight and it works;  I carefully put  new batteries in the new flashlight and it doesn't work.  We started out with a camera and a broken flashlight, and now have a working flashlight and a camera, but I won't talk about the resulting cost of the trip.