Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Today in the adult class we read about Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott. I feel so at ease in this class because I can be spontaneous, and my students can understand (or at least help each other understand in Arabic) all the sidenotes I bust out. I played them this song, which I'd never heard before today.

While I planned this lesson I thought about the Civil Rights trip with my 7th graders last year. I still can't get over how amazing that was. Selma, Birmingham and Atlanta....I wish every single American student had the chance to make that trip. I learned about slavery and civil rights in a mostly-white suburban high school, and it was moving, but it felt as remote as the French Revolution. We had some opportunities to travel, IB English offered the Dublin trip, and IB Biology had scuba diving in Maui. But the Northwest didn't offer much for historical awareness. I remember fur trappers and loggers and Native Americans (that naturally came out third, good grief) and that the founder of Bellevue, Washington was a baker. I don't think I really felt my country's history until I chaperoned a middle school trip through the South.

Hallelujah, I'm travelin,
Hallelujah, ain't it fine...
Hallelujah, I'm travelin
Down freedom's main line.
-song played in the Civil Rights Museum in Birmingham

I was at my grandparent's art guild in August, eating dinner when this lady who I hadn't had much contact with started talking to me about her younger days. She traveled around the country in a vanogan with a folk band and slept in black churches every night. I imagined that living that lifestyle during Civil Rights must've been a lot like traveling around Palestine today. The politics and history can be so cold and harsh, but the warmth and hospitality you encounter, the humanity in the face of it makes you fall in love.

"under the skin and these scars,
you have the crazy notion to believe in life."
-Mercedes Sosa

Skip Schiel send out a book recommendation on his e-mail list, and this is a book I heard about a while ago, but now it's finally re-released as Mornings in Jenin, and it's gotten great reviews. I think I'll look for it in Ramallah on Friday. Here's an excerpt:

"Amal, I believe that most Americans do not love as we do. It is not for any inherent deficiency or superiority in them. They live in the safe, shallow parts that rarely push human emotions into the depths where we dwell. I see your confusion. Consider fear. For us [Palestinians], fear comes where terror comes to others because we are anesthetized to the guns routinely pointed at us. And the terror we have known is something very few Westerners ever will. Israeli occupation exposes us very young to the extremes of our own emotions, until we cannot feel except in the extreme.
“The roots of our grief coil so deeply into loss that death has come to live with us like a family member who makes you happy by avoiding you, but who is still one of the family. Our anger is rage that Westerners cannot understand. Our sadness can make the stones weep. And the way we love is no exception, Amal.
“It is the kind of love you can know only if you have felt the intense hunger that makes your body eat itself at night. The kind you know only after life shields you from falling bombs or bullets passing through your body. It is the love that dives naked toward infinity's reach. I think it is where God lives.”