Monday, August 26, 2013

School Begins

Maybe it's because I'm a teacher or maybe it's because I'm human, but there are few things that bring joy to my heart faster and more fully than watching a bunch of kids on their way to or from school.

Boys watch as a film crew documents the first day of school.
Yesterday, the day I look forward to every year for as long as I can remember, was the first day of school.  As a child I went to school,  ready with brand new crayons, pencils, notebooks (as the year dictated) and filled with excitement for whatever the year might bring.  As a teacher new school supplies continued to thrill me.  Even more, I looked forward to meeting students, beginning to put names to faces, and setting the tone for a new year of (if I did my job right) mind-opening.

Here, out of the role of student and teacher (at least in a formal sense), I still looked forward to the first day of school.  I looked forward to new routines, as morning school patrols are now part of our daily work.  I looked forward to seeing the same faces each day and getting to know some of the children.  Most of all I looked forward to experiencing the sense of joy and resilience that children seem to embody so easily.

Thankfully, our first and second days of school patrols have gone well.  No children have been stopped as they've passed through checkpoints.  No children (but many adults) have had to open a backpack or bag to be searched.

Yesterday morning near one checkpoint a settler harassed CPTers, but not children.  In the afternoon near the same checkpoint a different settler took it upon herself to take pictures of us as we waited to make sure all children were able to make their way safely home; we took some of her, too.  Today I watched the same woman drive her car through a pack of children, honking angrily (every time I see her, she looks angry, so I feel that attaching the sentiment to her horn honking is fair) so they would move out of her way.  They moved without being harmed.

Because of several recent incidents not related to children, I felt tired this morning. Even seeing kids during school patrol didn't pep me up as much as I'd hoped.

This afternoon I patrolled again.  Little boys and girls passed by, many with whiskers and cat noses drawn on their faces, and I felt the smile on my face grow.  A few children approached me and boldly stuck their hands out for me to shake.  I gladly returned the greeting.  Others asked me, in Arabic or English, my name or how I was doing.  I answered in the language they used. They asked me other questions in Arabic, too, but my limited skills did not serve me then.

A group of boys decided to give me things.  One tried to give me a shekel (the money here), but I declined. One gave me a rock, another some sort of battery, another a piece of metal clasp that used to belong...somewhere.  While I know all of these gifts came from the street where they walked, I was nonetheless delighted to receive them.

As more and more kids passed, I found myself not only smiling, but laughing.  By the end of patrol, I felt relaxed and renewed.  Even the angry honking could not dampen my spirit.

I love the first days of school.

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