Step-by-Step: Making Aliyah to Israel

Documenting the very personal process of making Aliyah (immigration to Israel) by one very atypical Israeli-American girl. Aliyah on 17, August, 2005. Roadmap: What do you mean there's no roadmap?! Hang on, we're in for a bumpy ride! Ole!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Important now more than ever

Two posts coming today, the first, below, is the one I promised about the conversation I had with a *student who lives with her children on the outskirts of Sderot. The second (with pics provided my pics came out) is about the extremely interesting tour I got to do yesterday of many of the Arab-language media outlets in Israel, including newspapers and radio stations.

When I first started at BGU last October I met with a very motivated doctoral student who came to me with an interesting and exciting project. We hit it off immediately, having similar research interests and being close in age. She is actually a couple of years older than I but I would never have guessed it at the time. I filed away in my mind where she lives (meaning promptly forgot). Over the course of the year she and I have met with varying frequency to discuss work on her project. Each time I saw her she looked progressivly more haggard. At first, I put it down to her working a full-time job (she's a teacher), having 3 young children, and of course, working on her dissertation. Then I began to wonder if maybe she were ill. But since she didn't offer, I didn't want to pry.

When I met with her last Thursday it had been 3 months since we had gotten together in person to discuss her project, having made good use of email and the telephone in the meantime. She had aged a good 10 years since my first meeting with her. This time I had to inquire if everything was ok with her.

"I live in Sderot," she reminded me gently. She told me she could no longer remember the last time she was able to sleep through the night, or indeed, for more than an hour or two at a time. "It's the qassams, of course. The fear. But it is also our response. Everything the people just across the border in Gaza are getting, we are getting too but it is even louder on our side because the artillery canons are right there. The sonic booms, the sound of the shelling, we get it too." Even during the hours of quiet on both sides she is awoken by the screams of her children who are suffering from nightmares and who have returned to wetting the bed. "We are locked in a nightmare," she said.

And then she went on to tell me about her progress with her project. Despite all the chaos in her life she has made good progress and the project is almost ready to implement. This too was a surprise, especially given the circumstances under which she is living. I asked her how it was that the current set of circumstances had not sapped her motivation and she looked surprised and said simply,

"It is important now more than ever. There are also mothers in Gaza who want the firing on both sides to stop as well."

Her project aims to bring Palestinian and Israeli children together through an online cooperative project in their schools where the children will work together, improve their english skills, and it is hoped, break down the stereotypes they have of one another.

*(Permission to post about this conversation was obtained)

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