I was really bummed that I didn’t get to go on the trip to take the bedouin kids to the sea. I’ve been extra bitter about it because the girls who help out at the summer camp I work at keep asking for us to arrange a trip for their kids too.
1. I don’t want to be reminded of how much fun it will be and how much the kids will enjoy it
2. I’m already stressed by how much I want to give them and how little the budget is and how hard it is to spend it pragmatically.
3. Israel is a douche bag about geting permits to cross the checkpoints and a trip like this would be a really difficult thing to plan, a process about which I know nothing about.
Today, my boss explained why they keep bringing it up a little to me. The girls aren’t asking because they want it for the kids and think we have the money, they keep asking for the kids but also because they really really want to go too. Apparently there was a trip two years ago that they were supposed to go on but at the last minute, the tribe elders switched them out for young men instead. I don’t usually take up feminist critique of Islamic society because I’m not very good at it and I think this so often is used to support Islamaphobia and orentialism, but I feel SO bad for them. They want to go to the sea even more than the kids do because they are all desperate to just get out of the camp, particularly the one with a college education.
Girls at this particular bedouin camp are much more likely to go college than the boys, though it’s still very rare in general. To give an extreme example, the little sister of Ibtisam, who ran the girls summer camp I worked at earlier, just graduated with high scores and wants to go to college to be a translator. I am so happy for her, particularly because I had the chance to talk to her at the camp and she asked me nervously if her english was good and told me about how she wasn’t allowed to get a facebook until she took her test and that I should add her sister instead. Obvious testing anxiety going on. Girl should apply to Smith. Anyway, I also met with this girls father and he beamed when he said that all four of his daughters will now have gone to college. In contrast, non of his sons graduated high school. While this is obviously a rare case and the fact the Ibtisam even has a computer tells you a lot about her family and how much better off the particular encampment is than Bedouin almost anywhere else in the West Bank or Israel, it does reflect the trend of boys dropping out to work and girls working hard to go to school.
I’m pretty sure most of the girls who go to college live at home while they’re studying and they all come back to the camp after graduation with no job prospects other than teaching at an underfunded school. They’re invaluable to the community, but I can’t imagine how much more stifling it must be for the ones who have spent a little time away. Still, it’s amazing to be part of the quite revolution that’s taking place, painful and unrealized though it may be at this moment in time. I try to remind myself that when Ibtisam, one of the first Bedouin women to go to college, was a girl, she participated in one of the conversational classes Rabbis for Human Rights set up with English speaking volunteers. I wonder what will happen with the children I worked with…