A Field Trip to the Qalqilya Zoo
In our last week of class, we have rewarded those who have shown the most commitment to our classes with a field trip to Qalqilya Zoo.
It was really enjoyable walking around the zoo with a small group of the kids on Wednesday. I really enjoyed seeing their enthusiastic expressions as they saw the animals and it was great talking to them about where the animals come from and asking them what things that they know about them - the lions were very popular! I was however a bit surprised to see the ways in which some of the children behaved as we traveled in the bus. Some of the children who are normally very animated and energetic seemed a lot more withdrawn and possibly a little scared during the journey and this may have been due to the signs of military presence along the road. All in all I am really pleased that we were able to take this group to the zoo and I hope that they have many more opportunities to travel and explore in the future, maybe one day they'll have chance to see a lion in the wild too!
At the zoo, the children were fascinated to find their class animal (mascot) and to see "the king of the jungle, the mischievous monkey and beautiful peacock." The bus ride alone, revealed to us how special it was for these children to leave Nablus. Many of our students had never been to Qalqilya or a zoo, so it was an extremely exiting trip for all. I found it interesting that the normally rambunctious children sat with their eyes glued to the window, asking what village we were in, looking for snakes in the Olive trees, and trying to count the most red cars.
Yousef is a darling of TYO - well-known, dearly loved, and hard to miss, considering his dominating physicality and unashamed air of confidence which he marches round the Center with on most afternoons. When he discovered that we were going to the Zoo, he pounded the table with his fist and beamed with wild exclamation. But it was whilst our group was standing in front of the baboon cage that I was sharply reminded that Yousef is very much a person caught between childhood and adulthood, in a way that our usual term 'adolescence' doesn't satisfactorily describe. Yousef had been peering at the docile baboon curiously, and was edging closer to the cage. Suddenly the baboon snarled ferociously, baring its vicious jaws and rising on its hind legs before raging around the confines of its small cage with wild abandon. Yousef almost fell over. His eyes welled up with tears and he left our group to recover, terrified and stunned by the experience.
Thankfully, it wasn't long before Yousef was leading our group boldly around the rest of the zoo, and when the evening drew to a close he graciously helped walk one of our younger girls back home through Balata after dark. It's hard to express, but Nablus seemingly gives the phrase 'boys to men' a whole new meaning.
The fieldtrip to the zoo was great fun. Eager to find the answers for the scavenger hunt activity, our group walked about the zoo trying to find things like a bird that cannot fly (ostrich) and an animal without legs or arms (snake). My favorite moment, however, was when Sohaib, tried teaching me the words to a song he learned in music class. Sohaib proved to be a good teacher, demonstrating patience as I struggled with the Arabic lyrics. He repeated each word slowly, making sure I had the correct pronunciation. When I told him I was a bad student for not being able to remember all the words, he reassured me by flashing a big grin and saying, "No, no, you are good!"
See the students' response to their visit at the Qalqilya Zoo and the result of my music lesson with Sohaib in the video below!
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