Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Graduation

The Women and their Diplomas
I will post pictures as soon as I can. I was not able to take them because I was involved in the celebration. My friend Laura took pictures and will be sending them to me.

The Diplomas
One of the Women shows her Diploma
Gift from the Kids
This was a fantastic celebration. I can’t believe that I was only here two weeks and it worked out so well. USAID was very supportive of the computer class. This is a United States Agency for International Development and they have contributed to the Wi’am Center. They provided the computers and the desks and were very supportive at the graduation. They provided framed certificates for each of the women who completed the course and brought a sound system for the graduation. They also took lots of pictures and filmed the event.

On the morning of the celebration Wi’am was able to get a shade sail to cover a big portion of the back patio (see the picture). Since all summer it is so dry and hot it is like adding another room onto the building! Zoughbi Zoughbi, who is the director of the center, wanted to put up a shade sail, but he was concerned about having the funding. A few days ago he decided to go ahead and buy it and trust that the funds would come. Before he even had a chance he received notice of grants and donations that more that pay for the shade sail as well as helping out with the summer program. It was terrific to experience this all coming together.

Hedy making comments
Lorette Making Comments
I really enjoyed seeing the proud faces of the women were at receiving certificates and to talking to them. They felt that they had learned SO much. Some who had no email address now have email addresses and most of them have Facebook accounts and are my friends on Facebook! The kids were also there and presented me with a really nice gift, which is pictured here. They were also proud of the videos they made. I was able to present the Flip Video cameras to Wi’am and let them know they were a donation to the Center from the Austin Mennonite Church. I was really glad for that because I didn’t want to leave them with the idea that they were all from just me.

At 12 the Taxi came to get me and took me to the wall where there is a checkpoint from Bethlehem to Jerusalem. There is a way that people can walk across so that they can meet a car at the other side and also a gate for cars to drive through. When going on the settlement tour we all had to take a ride (often people take a taxi) to the gate. Then we had to walk through and meet another car at the other side. This time Carmen wanted to see if they would let her drive me through. She apologized and said that most of the time she is not allowed to take passengers across, so they have to walk and meet her again at the other side. She wanted to try to see if they would let us through first and so she took my passport (it was a benefit to be 55 for once!). We were allowed to go through, but only after one of the soldiers at the gate came with his gun and approved what had already been allowed. Then we had to stop so that they could look in the trunk and they had me open my suitcase.  What a crazy ordeal.

Now I am on to the next part of the trip. I am in Israel, but later today we will cross over to a different country, Jordan and see several interesting things and then a few days later it is back to Jerusalem before heading back to Austin.

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