In Israel: English Summer Camp
2008 in Israel
In July 2008, 7 Americans (3 adults and 4 youths) taught classes in English to Deir al Assad schoolchildren for two weeks. We visitors experienced wonderful hospitality—from our host families; from the school principal, teachers, and staff; from the entire village.
The students, 104 boys and girls ages 7 to 13 from Al Ain ("The Spring") Elementary School were bright, enthusiastic, and full of energy. Our curriculum was more English summer camp than school.
English Summer Camp Swim Party, 2009
Children in the English Summer Camp
"Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes" was a big hit, as were pictures made with colored tissue-paper, jumping through a ladder stretched on the ground to instructions called out in English, playground soccer, and explanations of American idioms and proverbs. ("Don't buy a pig in a poke" has a Deir al Assad equivalent: "Don't marry a bride from another village.").
2009 in Israel
In July 2009, another group of 7—some repeaters, some newbies—went back to Deir al Assad for two weeks.
2010 in Israel
In mid-June 2010, a group of 12 volunteers headed to Israel for the biggest, arguably best English summer camp yet. After staying with Esther and Avraham Hertzog in their lovely house on the Mediterranean for four nights (touring Jerusalem with the amazing guide, Issy Hertzog, who happens to be the son of our hosts) and visiting the Galilee and the Golan for three days guided by a kibbuztnik, the group headed for over two weeks in Deir al Assad.
There were 12 host families, a local committee, two venues—a community center and an elementary school, both with very professional and interested directors—and 300 students welcoming us.
Students in the Summer Camp
The camp this year even had t-shirts and an official name: "The D-D English Summer Camp." D-D stands for Dayton and Deir al Assad, although the volunteers came from places as distant as Wyoming and Minnesota. We had a wonderful two Deir al Assad weeks full of hospitality, humor, communication, and, of course, the occasional raw moment.
I knew the camp was a success when my host family's two young sons broke out singing "Lean on Me" with all the verses and when I heard the word "cuckoo"—as in crazy—being used by Deir al Assad adults. Plans are being made for next summer's camp. We also plan to bring a small group of star students from Deir al Assad to visit Dayton in the coming year.
2011 in Dayton
In April 2011 we had six star middle-school pupils from the village visit Dayton for two weeks. The students—four girls and two boys—were chosen by an essay contest. All their expenses were paid with donations from Daytonians. The students and their four adult chaperones stayed with host families.
Putt-putt with the group's high school hosts
Deir al Assad students and chaperones, Dayton, Ohio, April 2011
Highlights of the trip included school visits; a tour of the Air Force Museum led by two retired pilots; visiting a display of one of the original Wright Flyer airplanes; and visit to Cincinnati. The group had activities with a church youth group, a synagogue youth group, and a group of high schoolers who raised money take the visitors to an amusement center. The visitors also had lovely home-hosted dinners with local families, and were exposed to the wonders of dogs and owls (considered dirty and bad luck, respectively, in Arab culture). The students were lively and curious and didn't seem homesick at all. Their English impressed everyone and made many Americans—counting myself and my children—feel stupid.
The chaperones, I believe, had a good time, also. There was a big interest in shopping, which I was unprepared for. Live and learn.
- view photos from 2011 Deir al Assad to Dayton »
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2011 in Israel
June 2011 Volunteers
In June 2011, we again we had ten American volunteers working at the English Summer Camp in the village—nine college students and recent graduates and me, the den mother figure. The group again stayed with host families and split up to have "classes" (camp meetings?) in the middle school and three elementary schools. There is no question that the level of English in the Deir al Assad students is improving, and both the students and the volunteers are having wonderful experiences.
2012 in Dayton
2012 Students and Chaperones
The D-D English Education Experience continues. In April 2012, over Passover break, eight students and four chaperones came from Israel to Dayton for two weeks. Before staying with host families and attending local schools, the group visited Dayton historic sites, the Air Force Museum, Brukner Nature Center, and, in Cincinnati, attended a Reds game and toured the Freedom Center. All these activities were arranged and hosted by Dayton people.
2012 in Israel
In July 2012, ten American volunteers spent two weeks staffing the English summer camp in Deir al Assad. We had air-conditioned classrooms, help from local teachers and teaching students, the support of the Deir al Assad steering committee, and excellent students from not only Deir al Assad but several surrounding villages. Highlights included a mock Olympics, new songs, and a horror movie (well, half of a horror movie) written and produced by middle-schoolers.
2013 in Dayton
In Dayton's Snow
The 2013 spring's stellar group consisted of five students from Deir al Assad, one from Majd Krum, as well as chaperone Nabil. The students were attentive and thoughtful—I often felt like I could see a thought cloud above each student's head.
The radio piece done by Pam Ferris-Olsen includes interviews with the 2015 visitors, but the improv class I mention in this recording was this group.
Listen to the recording » [MP3]
2013 in Israel
2013 Students at the Final Ceremony
2013 saw a new setting for the volunteers—al Bashaar School in Sakhnin, Israel—and a new name: "English Summer Seminars." We had seven volunteers and four classrooms, and taught fiction-writing, led word games, sang songs, recited poetry and shared insights with excellent middle-school students. It could get a little rambunctious at times ("We Will Rock You") but the students seemed to learn a lot.
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2014 in Dayton
2014 Students and Chaperones at COSI
Another year, another batch of visitors! This year the seven students were from many different towns and the same high school, Al Bashaar in Sakhnin. These students attended the summer 2013 camp in Israel. New events in Dayton this year were Sunwatch Archeological village (a native American site) and the Columbus Museum of Science and Industry, both big hits. The students were fun and smart and delight to have around, even if one of them refused my request to get dressed up as a cowboy and stand beside a horse. (Do you blame this person?!?)
2014 in Israel
2014 Students with their Art Projects
Summer 2014 marked our second summer at al Bashaar secondary school in Sakhnin. This is a private school drawing students from all over the Galilee to specialize in math and science. We tried to give our English students something different—speaking and drama lessons, a mock trial involving issues of free speech, poetry-writing, conversations about our American culture and the students' culture, and experience talking about and using elements of visual art. It was fun! The students were all impressive and interested, and our host families were warm and offered amazing conversation, kindness, and food.
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2015 in Dayton
With a Federal Judge
In April eight students arrived in Dayton for 12 days from Al Bashaar School, chosen by a competitive process involving a test of basic English given in Israel and a series of essays read by volunteers in and around Dayton. The students were from different towns and villages in the Galilee and impressed all their hosts and instructors with their curiosity, English, and verve.