I arrived in Nablus yesterday, the ease of entry via Israel making me wish I had brought more: my book The Battle for Justice in Palestine, more art supplies for the classroom, more clothes. Live and learn, or not: my roommate, who is a teacher just like me, was held and interrogated for 12 hours when she arrived in Tel Aviv via Bangkok last week. A lawyer working for the school who had our visas pre-approved was notified, and eventually my roommate was allowed to pass through.
According to the returning 2015 staff, last year’s crop of international teachers saw 10 deportations immediately upon arrival. Just five of these teachers made it back to Palestine to carry out their teaching contracts. That could have been me, so maybe it’s just as well I didn’t bring that potentially controversial book.
I had just one day, today, to set up my classroom. As I worked, a brief flash of wistfulness grabbed at me as I remembered the art classrooms I have been a part of back in the U.S. Suddenly, the tight budgets and paltry pay of the past seemed lucrative and luxurious, and I realized just how industrious I would need to be–in terms of both materials and time–in order to make this experience successful for me and my students.
This evening, as I scrolled through Facebook, pangs of envy washed over me anew. Members of my 2015 Master in Teaching cohort began to post images of their new classrooms, and their clean, cheery, lush spaces appear so very nice, so very well-funded. It’s all a matter of perspective, I suppose.
In spite of wistful and envious moments coupled with jet lag and culture shock, I am enthusiastic about the challenges ahead. I can’t wait to start teaching tomorrow!