by Judih Weinstein Haggai
One grade 9 class from Ma'ale Habsor Regional High School, in the Western Negev, and another grade 9 class from Yavne School in Mexico City started to connect this year.
How did this come about?
For some time, Yaniv Araki, an Israeli, living in Mexico City had been wanting to build a connection between his students and Israeli students. Vered Tal, Principal of Ma'ale Habsor, invited me in June of 2007 to write Yaniv and find a way to begin the process.
Yaniv and I began to discuss our plans via Skype, the internet phone service. We decided to encourage correspondence between the students. We wanted to open all the channels: e-mail; a special internet site for our eyes only; and regular mail.
While we each worked on preparing lists of students' e-mails, I started to prepare a website. Alas, this was not going to be easy. First, I turned to Facebook. It seemed ideal. It offered private membership, for our students and their teachers. It could showcase all our photos, and video clips and it had a discussion board. However, I hadn't counted on the registration process stumping the kids. Only two managed to register! Maybe it was too new, at the time, but only by taking the kids to the School Computer room and logging on for them were they able to enjoy the visuals - and there were many!
I built another site and Ilil, a student in the class, built a third. None of them really succeeded, this year.
So, what did we do?
The photos that Yaniv sent were printed out and posted throughout the year on the class bulletin board. I sent him the photos we were busy taking of our Chanuka party. For Tu B'shvat, we created a special tree of good wishes, written in Hebrew. This beautiful tree, painted by Gal and Tova, was sent via the Sochnut mail, courtesy of Tal Klemer. Yaniv told me that upon receiving the tree, they organized activities around the wishes we'd sent.
When the e-mail lists were ready, kids picked names at random and began to write. Some began to write back and forth, others didn't quite get started. Since e-mails really have taken a backseat to text messaging and internet chat, this wasn't a huge surprise!
Yaniv's ultimate wish was that our students would meet in Israel. Ma'ale Habsor kids were very excited about it. After all, they'd seen the kids and they were so sweet-looking! What activities would they do? They brainstormed ideas and came up with: having a Costume party, a disco, going bowling or swimming. There would be sleepovers, breakfast and a BarB.Q..
Not this year!
Our area started appearing in the News, almost daily. We had become targeted with qassams. It became clear that correspondence would be the closest that the Mexican students would get to the Eshkol area, this year.
Now that we have a cease-fire, it is our hope that the kids can continue to be in touch and that we can realistically plan something for the future.
Ma'ale Habsor students (with Estella Gurevitch, homeroom teacher)