Friday, September 23, 2011

How does a good Jewish girl get herself in places like this?

In past years, I've worked in many schools in which Mexicans were the largest non-US group represented, and I've had classes that were largely Nepali or more Koreans than any other group, but there is something special in this adult ESL school. (For more on how I ended up working at this school, read this.) Not only are the Saudi students well over half if students in the college-prep program, they are also hear on a very well-defined, clear sense that they have two goals: they are here to study and learn and complete a degree and make professional connections that will help them with their careers back home; but equally important is their task to get to know Americans and other international students, while always being an excellent representative of their own culture. They are mini-ambassadors and they take that task seriously.
  How does a good Jewish girl end up attending propoganda events in honor of Saudi Arabia, and in awe and reference for King Abdullah. How does a good Jewish girl celebrate Saudi National Holiday? Well, I suppose theanswr is that I am a teacher. In a school that honors the tradtions and cultures of the students and staff.  As all schools should do. What am I doing there? I am a language teacher, a teacher who believes in multiculturalism and national pride, a teacher who loves seeing students in native dress and learning why some of the students wear white scarves while others where a red and white pattern. I am equally curious about the black silk ropes that sit above their heads, but what I noted most this afternoon was how quietly proud they all were.  They are creating their own community celebrations, and inviting the rest of us to learn and celebrate with the, I'm a good Jewish girl celebrating the culture of my students, and using what I learn about my global neighbors to help me understand my own Judaism and my Americanism through new eyes. 


Now what am I going to do with all these green banners and flags?

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