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Ahmed Alhalabi

"I am proud of the process of not only bringing knowledge of languages to these beautiful children, but also creating in them awareness of different cultures and ways of living so that from a very early age they can accept differences and understanding that we all can live in peace!"

My story is simple, I come from a very conflicted part of the world called the “Gaza Strip”, part of the Palestinian territories, my country is very small, only 25 miles long and between 4 and 8 miles wide, 139 square miles to be exact and with a population of about two million people.

Life is very hard since we have been for endless years with violent political conflicts and war, many places look like rubble and piles of stones where before there were homes, apartment buildings and business, and there we survive with very little things, even with limited electricity each day, from two to four hours each day. Our borders in every direction are closed, and very few times in a year,  sometimes for a day or two the border opens limiting the amount of people that can get in our out, but this seldom happens.

But as hard it is to believe, we remain very simple people, who live in a very family oriented way, very close with our parents and grandparents and our children, very religious, with dreams and hopes of peace and still with great values like honesty, love and proudness in our culture.
I consider myself lucky to be telling this story since I managed to escape by being many days in dark tunnels and with barely any food or water to get to the border, and I thank God for this because many like me did not make it, and I pray for my parents and sister and my nieces and nephews and friends who still remain there.

I studied in one of the remaining Universities, and after many hardships I was able to get my major in Business Administration. I got a job at a British Insurance company and worked there for 3 years until it closed due to the war.

I also volunteered for 3 years as a part time teacher of Mathematics and Arabic in the primary schools of my town, my children there were from 2nd to 12th grade. There are no private schools, at least not In Gaza, all the schools in there are operated by the United Nations, and the children go mostly in two shifts, the first one is from 6:30AM to 12:00PM and the second one from 11:00AM to 4:45PM. They go to school six days a week with the only day off being Friday. My pupils were from 40 to 50 per class, and different from here, we don’t have many resources, very few text books or notebooks, and apart from all the poverty and violence our children are so eager to learn and they are full of respect and admiration for their teachers, so for all of this, we the teachers and volunteers are so inspired to do our best.

After all my ordeal I came to USA almost 18 months ago, and since then I have taught Arabic to many children that are sons of emigrants from the Middle East whose parents wish them to learn or improve in their language skills. I also taught some adults, mostly Americans, that also had a basic knowledge in Arabic and wanted to practice their writing and pronunciation.

Now…

I am very blessed to teach Arabic at The New Village School in Sausalito. The  teaching environment is unique and so refreshingly pleasant that makes my endeavor a true pleasure!

I am proud of the process of not only bringing knowledge of languages to these beautiful children, but also creating in them awareness of different cultures and ways of living so that from a very early age they can accept differences and understanding that we all can live in peace!

Ma'as salaama
سلاةم