At the end of our second week in Beit Sahour, the project is really taking shape. We have worked with students in all three schools and been met with good responses, enthusiasm and interest. The staff are all working hard alongside us, making the most of our time together and enjoying the songs and games. When we gathered for a training session on Thursday afternoon, there was much discussion about details, questions and concerns. Then food arrived to cheering and singing, before we played music together. Children gathered in the playground to listen - what are the teachers doing?? sounds like fun! Can we join in? And so everything that happens impacts positively on the expectations and interest in the school community.
Yesterday we went to Ramallah, to the Hope school. We have least time to spend in this school, and Teleri and I were a little concerned about how effective we could be in a few short days. We need not have worried! The staff here, Anita and Mary, had set the scene perfectly, so all was ready to simply begin. Again, the children responded very well, and are keen to see us again next week. I felt quite emotional as I looked at the room set out as perfectly as any space would be in England, carpets carried in to cover bare floor, chairs in a circle, instruments in a box, the space far from interruptions and the children fetched for us. To put this in context, the music teacher will carry a similar small box of instruments to each classroom in turn to teach his music lessons. I feel very honoured by the trust placed in us and the value placed on our work.
There has been time for other things too! I attended the church at Beit Sahour last Sunday, and found a warm and friendly welcome, and offers to visit different places and institutions, including a school for children with Special Educational Needs. We will try very hard to visit that before our stay is over. On Tuesday, we were invited to a concert at the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music, which is a new building of a long standing organisation providing music education for all ages. The official opening concert had been the previous Saturday, when several well known performers had given a recital; but I think we had an even better deal, as we listened to some of the students who have been learning to play. It was wonderful, two piano solos, one well known, one delightfully original and a set of guitar pieces was part of the evening, but the rest was a set by traditional Arabic instrumentalists, first accompanying a children's choir and second playing the most exciting fusion of trad and jazz I didn't want it to end! The troupe is led by Waseem, the new music teacher at ELS Beit Sahour, who is going to bring about some great changes in the musical life of the school, I think, and is keen to support our Music as Therapy work. This is very exciting, and arrangements have been made to discuss ideas before we have to leave.
Yesterday was my birthday, so we went dancing in the evening in a bar called Cheers! It was like being at a party with our friends. And you'll be pleased know that before we went we wrote 46 postcards to our supporters, which we will post as soon as we manage to buy some more stamps. The postal service here is a shy creature, and needs to be carefully courted!
Hazel and Teleri