This last week has felt more like a month, and as I’m sitting here writing this, I think my body is in such shock from the serene calm of this cafe’s patio, being out of the camp, away from the kids, and not on a trip with a group of children or volunteers, that I am too zoned out to digest much of anything that has happened. But, I will try anyway.
First off, these kids are just cray. Adorable and hilarious as can be, but straight up CRAY. Naturally, the brightest ones are the troublemakers. And every time you want to slap them, something reminds you the cause for their behavior and you take a deep breath, try to remind them of their potential, and go on with your teaching. But, sufficed to say, they are trying our patience and I have no desire to send them to Miss Jamila (the terrifyingly mean headmistress), but those trips downstairs will probably start happening this week. Also, why is it that the ones that give you the most headache are also the ones that the other teachers always tell you how much they want to be with “Miss Nour!!” ? Show the love in class kids, show the love in class, eh?
I teach two intermediate classes a day, one from 11am to 1pm and one from 3pm to 5pm. I get in to school around 9am and lesson plan until breakfast at 10. Mondays and Wednesdays we have extracurriculars from 1 to 2pm and Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5 to 6pm. Lunch is at 2 everyday. The staff at Beit Atfal As-Sumoud makes us a magnificent meal every day. So far, chicken and rice, mjadara, baked spaghetti, and so on. We are all considering fasting through Ramadan, because no one wants the sweet women in the kitchen cooking while they’re fasting.
Monday consisted mainly of the kids taking placement tests and playing games in their respective test-taking classes. We continued to accept new kids through Wednesdays which made the first two days of class sheer madness with every morning and afternoon session beginning and ending with massive school-wide gatherings on the top floor. Next week, they’ll all be going directly to their classes and dismissed from there to extracurriculars so that should help…we hope.
Anny and I are teaching Shatila’s photography class. Our 2 classes’ pictures, along with the ones from Bourj al-Barajneh, Bourj al-Shamalye, and al-Rashidieh will be part of an exhibit at the DC Palestinian Film and Arts Festival. When we asked the kids what they wanted to show people in America, they responded with basics like people in Shatila or buildings or the market in Sabra or stores. But one boy raised his hand and said “tragedy.” Anny and I looked at each other and asked him if he knew what tragedy meant – to which he responded with “mokhayam (camp), 60 years = tragedy”….”Miss Anny, write tragedy on the board, please,” I said.
At the end of every week, we take the kids on a Friday field trip to get them out of the camp for a few hours and reward them for all their work. This week, we went to the river (the asmiya south of Saida). The teachers were in blue shirts; the kids in yellow. Blue shirts are like wearing targets. I have never been so quickly simultaneously splashed and thrown into water by massive groups of kids in my life. They also quickly set themselves up a dance floor. I heard Trashrash’s “Dag Almani” fifteen times I’m pretty sure. All in all, they had a great time, but rounding them up to go involved every single one of us losing our voices from yelling. We did however make it back to the camp with all 125 or so children we left with, so yay for that!
Saturday, the volunteers took an all adult trip to the Jeita caves and Jbayl (Byblos). Both amazing places to see and spend some time. Jeita I think was much more of a spectacle than Jbayl, where instead of really being a good history student and exploring the ruins, I had a seafood meal by the pier and got lost in how much it resembles Akka.
Next Saturday: Maroun al-Ras. I have been informed that I am not allowed to throw a rock at the border. We’ll see…