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Commemorating Nakba Day at the Primary School

Tuesday 19 May 2015

يوم النكبة Nakba Day

On Wednesday, May 13th, the students and teachers of Wahat al Salam – Neve Shalom Primary School commemorated the Nakba. To honor the Palestinian Day of Mourning, Identity and National Remembrance and to educate our students about the Nakba and the meaning of losing one’s home and becoming a refugee, the teachers of WASNS organized a carefully designed program suited for our binational student population and the different age groups. The memorial began with a meeting of all students on the steps of the main school building, where teacher Reem talked to our pupils about the meaning of the day and asked the Palestinian children to join her above the steps and present the diverse traditional clothes they wore for the occasion.

All students then went back to their classrooms, where each class was taught about the Nakba by their Palestinian teacher. Afterwards, pupils of two grades joined together for a special program. Teachers Nadwa, Hadas and Inas played a song to the 1st and 2nd graders, in which a child wants to take a fish out of the sea. In the song, the fish asks the child not to separate him from his home and tells the child what it means to be born in a place, where your family comes from, where you live, learn, and have your roots. After talking about the story and the importance of Wattan/Moledet (homeland), each child drew a painting with a fish and the home, they envisioned for a life together.

The children of the 3rd and 4th grades, together with teachers Rani and Faten, joined and listened tensely, while teachers Lutfiya and Hezzi told the story and showed the drawings of the children’s book ’Usu and Musu in Kakarusu’ about two brothers who have a fight about sitting together on one chair. The story describes the parting of their families and how for generations to come, each side demonizes the other and adds more legends to the conflict, until they finally break down the wall that separates them and see the other is just a human and part of their family.

Teachers Voltaire and Avital showed the 5th & 6th grade children the documentary ’This is my land’ by Tamara Erde, which deals with the different approaches to education in Palestinian and Israeli schools and looks inside classrooms in Israel and the occupied West Bank to see how children are taught the history of their nations. The Wahat al Salam- Neve Shalom Primary School is also portrayed, so our students who saw the film realized what it means to see both sides of a (hi)story instead of just one.

Nakba Day ended with a memorial ceremony, for which the Palestinian 6th graders with their homeroom teacher Reem and Raida had prepared text, pictures and a beautiful stage with traditional artifacts and decorations. With the Palestinian children and teachers from all classes assembled, the Palestinian 6th graders told four personal family stories on how the grandparents and families of students Nour Gherbawy, Adam Elsane’a, Elia Jaber and Intisar Abu Riyash experienced the Nakba. The commemoration concluded with the former national anthem of Palestine. The children and teachers sang the touching words of the poem Mawtini, written eighty years ago by the Palestinian poet Ibrahim Touqan.

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