by Sarah Kochav
EVEN YEHUDA, Israel — On May 16, 2012, the superintendent, members of the school board, teachers and students at the Walworth Barbour American International School in Israel (WBAIS) in Even Yehuda, were the proud hosts of the graduating class of Na’amat Technical High School in Nazareth. Gathered around the swimming pool, the Superintendent of WBAIS, John Gates, grilled dozens of hot dogs and hamburger patties with the help of social studies teacher Pete Sickle and students from the Model United Nations and science teacher, Stuart Fleischer, and students from the Global Awareness Investigation and Action (GAIA) Environmental Club. While everyone likes a barbeque, we were all amazed at the huge bowl of tabouleh and many trays of pastries provided by the Principal of Na’amat Nazareth, Nadera Tannous, and the teachers from the Senior Class. There was also time to take a group of teachers from Na’amat around our school and show them the library and some of the classrooms.
While very different in overall size, the two schools emphasize individual attention and small classes and most importantly share the same values. WBAIS has an enrollment of nearly 560 students at its campus in Even Yehuda and another 125 at its campus in Jerusalem, representing over 50 nationalities. Approximately 40% of our students are American, 20% are Israeli from both the Jewish and Arab communities, and the remainder are from countries all over the world. Our common values include “Peaceful Cooperation in a Green World” and that is demonstrated every day on our campus. Na’amat Nazareth offers a wonderful opportunity to reach out to girls who are interested in the small class size and in supplementing the regular high school curriculum with the opportunity for courses in graphic design and product design, early childhood education and hairdressing and styling.
The next morning, Nadera Tannous telephoned from Nazareth and said that the 12 grade students were all abuzz regarding the fun they had. Firm friendships have been formed and as twelfth-grader at WBAIS, Leah Teichberg Sabath, described the Pool Party,
It was really an honor and a pleasure being at the Nazareth pool party at WBAIS. Meeting girls my age from a different background is always really powerful. It made me so happy to see the girls having so much fun at our school, and obviously makes one appreciate WBAIS (the people, the campus, the atmosphere).
During the party, we had so much fun. We were managing to communicate despite the obvious language barrier. We took photos, walked around, and just had a really great time. At the end of the two hours, we exchanged phone numbers and Facebook names. As I was walking away I heard a girl scream, "Leah!" I turned around and walked backed to the girl. In broken English she asked me, "Can you come to our graduation party?" I was so flattered and excited. I am going to their graduation with a friend of mine from WBAIS, and I am inviting a few of them to mine.
Just this morning, May 26, I was speaking on the phone with one girl, Narmeen. Even though it was only a two hour gathering, I honestly had so much fun and I couldn't be gladder that I went. I think interactions like this one is really important for people our age to experience. Even two hours with these girls made me realize that even in little Israel there are so many groups of people who can come together, despite their background, religion, or language and build lasting relationships.
Also, a small delegation from WBAIS will be going up to Nazareth in June, when Na’amat celebrates the dedication of their new school. We are grateful to Margret Ellwanger for giving us this opportunity to carry on this tradition of friendship between our two schools.
Visit forpeace2012.shutterfly.com to view, download or print photos.