Tuesday, June 16, 2009

"This Journey Called My Life"

ENP intern Tamara Maltiel recently attended an ENP mission at the ENP Rehovot Youth Outreach Center. Below is her account of her experience:

On a recent mission to Rehovot’s Outreach Center, I was talking to a group of teenage girls who frequent the center. I asked them what they like to study and one mentioned that she liked to sing. She told me that the girls had all made a singing group together and wrote their own songs. It didn’t take much to get the girls to agree to give us an impromptu performance. The song I heard was so much more than what I expected. Not only was it musically beautiful, but the lyrics were obviously incredibly meaningful to the girls as they sang. It was a song about trying so hard to reach your goals. One verse says, “I need to aim higher or be more certain of myself/So that I don’t give up, even if it’s hard/I’ll push myself uphill until I’ve tasted success.” The song also talks about relying on oneself to have the strength to make it through life.

High school is normally a challenging time. It’s a time of trying to define who you are, who your friends are, and what your goals are, and taking classes on top of everything. These girls have the additional challenge of trying to balance their Ethiopian and Israeli identities.

The song has a beautiful message of bringing yourself up even if you fall. It uses the sun as a metaphor; every evening it loses its strength and stops shining, but every morning it brings itself up to try again.

The song lyrics:

I’m dreaming about reaching there
Maybe another step, and maybe this is early
I want to see the light at the peak
Meanwhile I am alone on the ground

I always hoped that the day would arrive, always
I aspired in hope to fulfill the dream
I wanted to realize the endless desire
I didn’t ask anyone because I knew the journey was entirely mine
And I knew that if I want to succeed
I need to aim higher or promise myself
Not to give up, yes, yes, yes, even if it’s hard
To push myself upward until I’ve tasted success

I’m dreaming about reaching there
Maybe another step, and maybe this is early
I want to see the light at the peak
Meanwhile I am alone on the ground

And even if I fall I know
So get up and stand on my own two feet
I won’t close my eyes, and I’ll try again
To move forward in this journey called my life
Like a journey in the desert without water
Like the sun that loses itself in the nights
It slowly lost the strength
But every morning it brings itself up on its own two feet.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Terrie's Latest Adventures

I must say I have been very busy which I love! Last Monday, I went with Daniel from the Ethiopian National Project (ENP) to Beit Shemesh to paint apartments. We arrived and no one else was there. No supplies, and no one was home in the designated apartments. So, we waited, and waited and finally some people came and Daniel bought a weed eater and the yard was cleaned. I had to get back to Kiryat Malachi for a program that evening, so I left not having painted. I hear that the work was done later that day and the next day. That is all that mattered. (40 soldiers were supposed to lend a helping hand but had to cancel at the last minute due to a Civil Defense exercise that took place in Israel the next day. Other volunteers arrived after work.)

That evening, I had the opportunity to attend the dedication of 2 benches that the children from the Science Class had made with people who go to a club. They all have Cerebral Palsy. All 80 high schools in Israel are partnered with a club for disabled children or seniors. The purpose is to come up with a project in which all can participate. These kids and club members cleared a very weed full yard and put all of the garbage into car tires. The tires were on cinder blocks. Then, the tires were sealed with cement and painted. Voila, two beautiful benches now adorn the yard. Unbelievable. The parents, kids and even the Mayor attended the ceremony. I was very touched and think it was the most moving experience I have had in Israel. The interaction between the 9th graders and their new friends is genuine and sincere. A lot of barriers were overcome in order to make this wonderful program such a success. This is the third year that Sari, the Science teacher, and her students have done this. My hat is off to them.

I continue to work on Wednesday afternoons with the Enrichment Program for ENP. The kids are preparing for their English proficiency exam and that is the focus of our lesson. They are beginning to feel more comfortable speaking English, but writing is another thing. Their sentences tend to be very basic and repetitive. Sivan and I worked on "spicing" them up and including time words which is what the test readers will be looking for. I work with the same children during the day, so we know each other and I know what their assignment is. There is also a comfort level there and that is great! The girls are much more verbal and animated than the boys who are quite reserved.

I had a new experience last week! There was a drill with the siren all over Israel so that in case of an emergency, one would know what to do. Well, I was at the Day Care Center and 20 of us crammed into one office for ten minutes. The siren sounded like a low Shofar blast and lasted 30 seconds. I had no idea what to expect. I guess it is like a fire drill, but the women were talking about how it was a few months ago when a missile hit here and it was for real. This is taken very seriously as you can imagine!

Traveling continues to be included whenever there is time! I went with Chayim and Aliza to Eilat for Shabbat to be with their daughter, son-in-law and children. It was like being in Tucson but with a beach. It was 104 degrees and the water in the sea was cold! Oh, yes, but it is a dry heat! They live on the kibbutz on which their son-in-law grew up. His parents and 2 brothers still live there. There were 15 of us for Shabbat dinner. It was so wonderful being with so much family! I only wish my Hebrew were better so I could join in more of the conversation. The 3 brothers have been to the US numerous times so we could converse. It was a great weekend!

Shula, the high school English teacher with whom I work, took me to Ashdod Sunday evening. We walked on the beach and had coffee in a small cafe. It was really nice to be somewhere new and visit with her. Her family came to Israel in the 1930's from Iran. Yesterday, she had a meeting in Tel Aviv and I went with her. While she was in her meeting, I went to the Etzel and Jabotinski Museums and learned all about the Irgun, the Haganah, (the underground resistance fighters in Israel who helped oust the British) and Jabotinsky. From there to Shuk HaCarmel and to the Dizengoff Center's mall. It is 3 stores with 7 offshoots. It was huge!! Just nice to be somewhere new exploring.

Off to tutor! More adventures to follow, I am sure!

Love to you all,

ENP's work in Kiryat Malachi is supported by the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona, the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, and the Jewish Federation of Orange County.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Terrie in Kiryat Malachi

Terrie Sherman hails from Tucson Arizona. She is participating for the third year in the Partnership 2000 TIPS program. After meeting Grace and Nigist in Tucson, Terrie decided to volunteer with ENP in Kiryat Malachi. A teacher of English and special education for 30 years, Terrie is sharing her vast experience with ENP's students.

Where does time go? It seems to just fly away! I have been very busy and am doing some new things. I am with 7th and 8th graders at Amal 1 High School in an English class. They act the same as American 7th and 8th graders. They become very shy when I bring out my camera and do not want me to take pictures of them. We are working on past, present and future irregular verbs with 8th graders and physical attributes with the 7th graders. The kids understand and can speak much better than they write.

I am spending time each week helping Daniel, the volunteer coordinator of the Ethiopian National Project (ENP) improve his speaking in English. Daniel is working on an advanced degree and will be traveling to present the Project and needs to be more confident. We talked about his family (which is very small he says...8 children!), his education and upcoming wedding! I am very excited to be attending his wedding on June 18th. Tomorrow, I will go with Daniel to Beit Shemesh to an Ethiopian community and help paint. It should be a lot of fun!

I have begun volunteering on Wednesday afternoons as part of the ENP with enrichment. The program is from 2-5; with the boys from 2-3:30 and the girls from 3:30 - 5:00. Last week, they wanted to learn cursive. Sivan, the teacher, was very glad to have me there as I have mastered English cursive and she is challenged by it. The kids loved seeing words they knew in cursive, especially their names! We played hangman and they were very good at it. They chose categories and had to think of words that fit into the category given and spell it correctly. Quite a challenge!!

There was no work on Thursday as that evening was a holiday of the giving of the Torah. Everyone eats dairy and you know I love this holiday because I can eat everything! Aliza is wonderful chef as is her husband Chayim. We had pasta, lasagna, ravioli, tuna, lots of salads, many different kinds of cheese and when I thoughts we were finished, she brought out pizza, barakas stuffed with vegetables and stuffed mushrooms. I put a little of each food on my plate and she piles more on. You have to love her!

I have also spent time with Revaya, the 14 year old daughter of Sarah who runs the Ethiopian women's program I so dearly love. Revaya is a very bright young lady with much potential. She loves to talk in English so we do! Revaya wrote an excellent report on different cities to visit in the US and got pictures from a travel agency. She included the Grand Canyon because I live in Arizona. It is such a pleasure to talk with her. She is beyond her years.

Today, I spent some time with my dear friend Luci. I taught Luci English 2 years ago and we visited last year as well. Luci's sweet husband Rafi passed away 1 1/2 years ago, and she is now beginning to live again. Luci will begin English classes in October at the Center. I am going to help her with her English while I am here. Luci is THE BEST falafel maker in all of Israel, and I have tasted many!!

I have connected with the volunteer coordinator in Akko, Louisville's partnership community. They have a summer camp program for disabled kids in wheelchairs and I may be able to volunteer there for a week in July. Noah, the director, will get back with me. When I am there, I will be able to go to Haifa as well as Nehariya and see my family.

Love, hugs and peace,

Stay tuned for more blog posts from Terrie...
ENP's work in Kiryat Malachi is supported by the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona, the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, and the Jewish Federation of Orange County.