Chapter 11 / Back to Index / Chapter 13
Ruth and Sam's Blog from Ibillin
Chapter 12

The pen pal program for elementary school students continued this week with some intensity.  Last week as we were leaving for Rehovot and parcel of letters arrived from the West Valley School in Kalispell, Montana, and at nearly the same time a message arrived from Aimee Van Middlesworth's 4th grade class in Richmond, Indiana.  The children here were already busy responding to Thanksgiving letters from the Richmond Friends School.  

This all was happening during a week that is short on class time and full with celebrations before the Christmas holidays.  It was not difficult to find new partners for these new contacts, since nearly everyone in the 5th and 6th grades wanted to write and get letters from the USA.  It seems to have been a little bigger burden on the technical folks - the secretary of the elementary school who took all those letters home to scan, and Sam, who then had to resize them, label them and then send them back to the right school.  The Richmond Friends School 4th, 5th and 6th graders were so efficient that our chidren had received responses to their Monday letters before the week was over.

Here are pictures of various respondents on both sides of the world:

Aimee's Class  Our MBS Writers    RFS Class
Aimee's 4th Grade in Richmond                            Mariam Bawardi Students                    RFS Children on a Field Trip

Pen Pal Letters Exhibit  Helping Teachers at MBS  Pen Pal Letters on Board
Pen Pal Letters on Display,  and Shadia and Toujan, Teachers who have helped with the Pen Pals

 Ninth Grade Dancers with Boran  First Grade Class  Ninth Grade Dancers V'e David

We continued with folk dancing sessions,  with big and little dancers.  In the pictures above you can see ninth grade dancers dancing V'e David, helped enthusiastically by Boran in black and white, a PE teacher who is a very good friend on the faculty.  In the middle are some first graders who are not that sure of what these crazy English speakers want them to do.  As you can suppose, Seven Jumps was about the only successful exercise, and the only "dance" we had them do on their feet.  Everything else was done sitting on the floor, including a very strange version of the Hokey Pokey.

Below is a little bit of miscellany:  We have been concerned with the amount of litter on campus here.  By some standards it is not too bad.  The many trash cans do get filled and emptied, and the dumpsters as well.  There is a tremendous amount of plastic litter produced every day, and and the children and plastic swirl around the playgrounds during break times, as in the picture.  Actually, from the amount of trash in the cans, probably less than ten percent fails to be collected, but this 10 percent is noticeable to our eyes.  We do pick some of it up, out of habit, but lately just to assuage our feelings we have been collecting aluminum cans.  

This week we made two notable discoveries:  a couple of familes that recycle cans and bottles - We assume for money, and we saw large-pile disposal in action - note the bath tub.
Children and Trash  The Jaws of Disposal  Recyclers     
Children and Plastic Bags              Jaws of Disposal                        Recyclers

A third discovery on a different subject was the inside of a Pomelo, seen below.  This strange citrus fruit is very large - note the orange for comparison - and tastes like a sweet grapefruit.  It was grown by the Frenkels over by Lake Tiberias.

The rest of this week's blog is a sort of photo essay of the various celebrations:

1.  The Middle School Christmas Souk (Souk is the Arabic word for market of bazaar)
Middle School Souk  Middle School Souk  Middle School Souk
Some of the Booths

Middle School Souk from above  Badiya Cooks Pancakes  Zoysa and friend
From above                        Badiya Cooking Pancakes                             A Reindeer and friend

2.  One of the pre-Christmas concerts by the high Christmas Tree right in the middle of Ibillin
Ibillin Christmas  Ibillin Christmas  Ibillin Christmas
About 1000 people attending                       From Our House                           by the Tree

2.  The Kindergarten Performance
Kindergarten Performance  Sam and Henry's Father  Kindergarten on Stage
Lining up                  (Sam and Henry's Father by the Tree)                     On Stage

3.  Some Kind of Contest in the Gym

      Contest?  Audience at Contest  More Contest
Dressing?                           Cheering?                            Eating?

4.  Saturday Supper with Boran
at Boran's  at Boran's  at Boran's
Boran and her Mother             An Example of her Sculpture                  What a Spread!

5.  Saturday Evening Christmas Souk in Shefa'Amr (or Shefaram, the Jewish name.)   This was like the Whitefish Christmas Stroll, but more people in narrow streets of the old town.  The city is mixed Christian and Muslim, but does contain a very old Synagogue and Jewish Cemetery, from pre-Zionist times.  The old buildings in the center of the city are 250 - 300 years old.  Everyone was there.  We probably met 30 of our folk dancers and letter writers, along with parents and teachers.  There were family groups, and separate groups of young men and young women, as in a Mediteranean Promenade.  There were food and drink merchants giving out free samples of wine, coffee and sweets;  and upscale shops open for perusal.  There were popcorn, cotton candy and ice cream vendors.  The narrow streets were sometimes so crowded that all movement was stopped.  Within a few blocks we encountered three different churches and a mosque.
Shefarma Christmas Souk  Shefarma Christmas Souk  Shefarma Christmas Souk
Melkite Church                      Baptist Church                   upscale merchant
Shefarma Christmas Souk  Shefarma Christmas Souk  Shefarma Christmas Souk
Hala Khoury and her Family          Shadia, Husband and Twins  "Stuck Crowd"

Shefarma Christmas Souk  Shefarma Christmas Souk  Ice Cream Finale
Orthodox Church Courtyard                  Crowded Street                   Ice Cream!

See you next week - Merry Christmas from Ibillin!