First impressions are not always the best. I usually don’t volunteer in the schools, but this year I decided to help out in the Golumb School, school located in a lower economic Tel Aviv neighborhood. The principal, Irma and the English teacher, Shlomit greeted me on the first day. They were friendly and courteous. They started me off the students who were good in English. What a variety of backgrounds, Filipino, Russian, Ukrainian, Ethiopian and Israeli! For the most part these students spoke fairly well and could read even better.
We practice speaking and I get to learn about the lives of many of the students. Some told me about their families – the Filipino girl comes from a single parent family, her father passed away. Her grandmother is living with them and they may return to the Philippines.
We work in the teacher’s lounge, which can be very noisy, especially the first thing in the morning. But, there is a shortage of classrooms so we are grateful to have this space. The first few days we were mostly ignored by the other teachers, but as time has gone by, they have began to acknowledge us. And…now we feel part of the faculty.
As a volunteer and not teachers we have to find ways to communicate with the students especially when we are not working with school books. We talk about the days of the week, the months of year, the weather, parts of the body and the family. The alphabet works well too!
I work with two other CAARI volunteers. Each day we exchange our experiences with the other CAARI participants. My favorite stories is about one young boy who confided in me that he has a girlfriend and another girl want to be his girlfriend. Oy – the trials of youth!! He didn’t know what to do and wanted some suggestions. I said that the tell the second girl that he already had a girlfriend and that she could be his friend. He seemed to be satisfied.
As I write this, we have one more day to assist in the schools. It has been a very satisfying and fulfilling experience. I will remember the children and I hope they will remember all the volunteers from both Canada and the USA.