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Youth Communications 2006

We will not give up! Four months ago, Abraham center and Gal Springman, a friend from the Centers golden years, began two special parallel classes. Once a week, a group of ten pupils (their age ranges from 11 to 16) get together to learn English with the aim of corresponding with each other by computer. The class in Gaza is free. What matters is that the pupils are motivated to learn English in order to talk to the students on the other side and that their parents agree to their participation in the program.

Gal is an Israeli English teacher who works in Tel Aviv and Jaffa. In 1998, she read an article about Abraham center in an Israeli newspaper and called samira to invite her to a restaurant in Yad Mordachai, near the  kibbutz, where she lived, very near Gaza.  Samira persuaded her to first come to Gaza to have a look at the Abraham Center, and Gal agreed to join a group that was coming from the University of Beersheva.

Since then, she and Judy Cohen, another English teacher, have created an Israeli non-governmental organization (NGO) called Language Connections. Its members are Jews, Christians and Muslims who share the challenge of living and raising families in the explosive context in this region of the world. They are convinced of the need to break out of the vicious circle of violence through a better understanding nurtured on a person-to-person level. They see learning a language in general, the dialogue model and web based social technologies for learners ( specially developed by Gal Springman) as a means of establishing dialogue on an entirely personal small scale.

Language Connections and the Abraham Center have been trying to meet face to face since summer 2006, when Gal and Samira started discussing the two groups they wanted to match.
Events of the past year have not helped them get off the ground. Last month, Samira, a young computer specialist and the English teacher responsible for the group in Gaza were invited to Tel Aviv. They were to meet with the Language Connections board of trustees and familiarize themselves with the school as a preliminary to planning their parallel teaching under optimal conditions. Unfortunately, the situation at that time made it impossible for them to make the trip.

This is just one example of several aborted efforts involving painstaking preparation on the part of Abraham center and its staff to open a crack in the wall of ignorance and indifference surrounding Gaza these recent years. Lethargy and fatalism are the common reaction of most people here. But Gal and Samira persevere in their deep desire to create conditions for mutual comprehension which they know is possible for having wanted and lived it. Gal exclaimed to me recently on the phone, Money for weapons is easy to come by, but no one wants to invest in education!

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