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Asante Johnson, a middle school teacher at Wheatley Education Campus in Northeast Washington, DC shares her first experiences visiting the Arab Evangelical School in Ramallah, Palestine. Over the past school year, both schools engaged in a virtual exchange learning about the other class’ respective city, and the exchange has progressed to discussing and doing complementary assignments in Social Studies and STEM.
My Warm Welcome In Ramallah
My experiences in Ramallah so far have been filled with much curiosity from myself as well as from the people in the community. I am not only surprised by the extremely warm welcome I’ve received from the community, but also, by how many similarities there really are between the students here in Palestine and with my students in Washington DC.
The community’s inviting welcome was evident, when students’’ families blew and waved the horn as I walked down the street inviting me to join them at their homes to enjoy deliciously prepared food. I realized that wherever I go, people are always trying to feed me! Not only are the people warm and welcoming, but they are especially kind, peaceful and believe in family first and God almighty. It is a very nice feeling to know that everyone is so inviting.
I also received quite a warm welcome from the students at school. I have even been asked to sign numerous autographs by the students at the school…imagine that! I have signed most of the 6th grade student’s papers. It touches me to know that they just simply want a signature that they can have to remember the American science teacher by. I also noticed as I walked through the schoolyard, students come up to me and want to know how my day is going. They offer me their lunch and they also want to give me passes to come to their house. Their curiosity and generosity is a great feeling.
I had many thoughts coming into this experience, but what has really amazed me so far (aside from the warm welcome) has been how similar the Palestinian students are to my students from back home. I am shocked to hear that they listen to the same kind of music, wear the same types of clothing and glasses, and a lot of them even have braces. Just like my American students, they are very big into taking selfies and photos! They are also quite active on social media and even asked me to be their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram friend-it was very flattering!
My time here so far has made me aware of how pride for Palestine runs deep throughout this country. People hold true to their deep belief systems and the value that is placed on family and tradition. I specifically experienced this when I was invited into people’s home with their desire of sharing their traditions with me. From my experiences so far, I recognize that the Palestinian people are extremely hospitable and want to share their love and admiration of their country with others.