We are all similar, we are all different
Children at ages 4-5 years who live in the most disadvantaged areas of Nablus camps- have limited exposure to the world. Few of the children in my classes have ever been to other cities within Palestine, such as Ramallah, Jenin, or Bethlehem. And most of my children do not have any opportunities to travel outside Palestine- even to the neighboring countries of Jordan and Egypt. The main reason behind the limited exposure to the world is the financial situation of the parents and the complicated political context in which we live. Lack of exposure for children at young ages prevents children from identifying diversities and different cultures and characteristics around them, which is problematic as it creates a closed-minded population. Introducing children at young ages to other cultures, and exposing them to diversity can help children to increase their own self-respect and help them respect others as it teaches them that all people have similar needs, even if they look different or speak different languages.
Talking about the importance of building acceptance can not be done by just giving lectures or showing children pictures. Children learn more through experiencing things themselves—when they see different types of people and communicate directly with them. Knowing this, in Week 6 of the Core Child Program, we plan our activities around ‘My World’ as it pertains to ‘Me and My Community’. We have privilege to host guest speakers—the international interns—who represent their own home countries. We hosted interns from England, America, and New Zealand this program. Children had opportunities to hear the different accents and interns shared their flags with the students. The children heard music from around the world. The interns also brought stories from their home countries. Children also had a chance to see where their country of Palestine is on a map in comparison to other locations.
Even I, as a teacher, was so excited to learn more information about these other countries and have communication with people who actually live there. Part of me was sad because at my age, as an adult, even I have a hard time picturing these places and understanding how different people live. This is a feeling of shame, but on the other hand it is my responsibility as a teacher to give my children all the opportunities I never had when I was young.
This program - as part of Student Training and Employment Program (STEP!) - is sponsored in part by the Abdul Hamid Shoman Foundation.
-Core teacher, Ahmad