By Scott Littman, Israel Teaching Fellows Ramle
When I came to Israel I had three goals. First, to do what I came here to do and teach English. Second, to learn some Hebrew. Third, to make some new friends. Now that everything is over, I can say I accomplished my goals.
When I arrived in Israel I didn’t know any Hebrew. Now I can say with confidence that I can understand Hebrew. After 5 hours of Ulpan (Hebrew class) per week for 10 months, and numerous hours on speaking, reading, and listening to Hebrew in every day life. I have learned an astonishing amount of Hebrew. Now I want to continue practicing Hebrew. I will still speak to some of my friends in Hebrew and on WhatsApp. I might even be teaching Hebrew to little kids next year.
I have new friends from all walks of life, and all over the world. American’s, Israeli’s, Ethiopians, Europeans, and more, both young and old…There are even a few students that I can call friends and I really hope to see them again one day.
Obviously, we all came to teach English. It is hard to recognize exactly what I taught my students but I know I made an impact in many of their lives…even just a small impact. I can say for certain that I have encouraged them to speak and use English. All of my students knew some, or even a lot, of English before I arrived at the school. But since I didn’t speak Hebrew with them, the only way they could communicate with me was in English. Sure they made a ton of mistakes, sure they couldn’t always tell me something they wanted but they did find a way to communicate with me. Many of them went out of their comfort zone to talk to me and I pulled a lot of English out of them. I think that if my school gets Teaching Fellows for the next 4 years, the 5th graders, who will be in 8th grade by then, will be considerably better at speaking, reading, and writing in English than the 8th grade now. The 8th grade is also pretty good at English now so I can’t wait to see them improve. The last day at the school was Sunday, June 30th and it was also the 8th graders graduation. Becca (the other Teaching Fellow at my school), and I made thank you cards for the 8th graders. We made 40 cards that included a colorful card with their name, a short, personal message, and a friendship bracelet. Together we probably spent 30 hours finishing the cards but I am so glad we did. After we gave them the cards, I realized how much of an impact we made. I think this is when many of them realized that in fact we are leaving. Saying goodbye to the students and the school was one of the hardest things that I have ever done. I will be back one day, and I will teach more students, but I don’t thing anything will ever be like this experience. These were my first students and I will remember them very well.
It doesn’t end there, either. I was involved in so much more than what I expected when I arrived. I was on a softball team, a part of the Underground club, I did a program called Livnot (look at my blog post from mid October), and I even got to play the piano a lot. Theses experiences were the icing on the cake.
The Underground Club is an English club on Monday afternoons. It is for people aged 18-30 but really anyone was welcome to come. The amazing thing about the Underground is that it brought Israeli’s together. Arabs, Jews, Muslims, Christians, Russians, and South American’s. They were all Israeli’s. Many people don’t think all of these people can get along, but I saw it first hand. That is one of the great things about Ramla, is that everyone lives together and everyone gets along.
The softball team was an unexpected gift. I heard that there would be a softball team in the spring, so I had my parents bring some baseball gloves. When the time came to start playing I was pleasantly surprised. Our team consisted of 6 guys over 50 years old, a few medical students from Tel Aviv, and then me and one other person from Ramla. Even though we were terrible and only one 1 game, it was so much fun. It was nice to be a part of a team and play a sport and I love baseball so softball was great.
My journey as an Israel Teaching Fellow might have ended this week but I will always take the experience with me. I will apply it to my next journey, and the one after that.
Next year I will continue teaching and eventually get my masters in teaching and make a career out of it. The thing I will miss the most about my journey in Israel is that walk from the front gate of the school to the classroom where I was greeted with friendly smiles, waves, and dozens of hello’s, good mornings, and “what’s app man.” The worst part is that I will probably never see many of those smiles again. But that is part of being a teacher, right? Every year new faces come, and old faces go, and you need to learn to say goodbye. Many people say that you can only take away as much as the effort you put into something. I put a ton of effort into this experience and I took away a whole lot. Can’t agree more with this statement and I will keep this attitude towards everything I do in life.