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Field Staff Reports: Joyce Ajlouny – January 2013

Celebrations and performances were the main focus for the entire Lower School in the month of December. All the hard work that went into the preparation for the performances was evidenced in the wonderful choral program presented. Tala, the FGS librarian, recorded all performances and placed them on YouTube. Parents were delighted to be able to watch and share these videos. Each performance can be viewed on YouTube.

Unfortunately, our joy during the Christmas season was short-lived upon receipt of the news of the death one of our graduates, Mira Dabit, 23, who lived in Washington, D.C. This was a double-fold tragedy in that she was the daughter of one of our long time teachers, Vera Dabit. Mira was a non-violence activist and was involved in the Occupy movement. She blogged and spoke extensively against the occupation of Palestine. The RFS community came together beautifully to help Vera bring back Mira for burial in Ramallah. This process, however, took nearly three weeks due to Israeli authorities actively preventing the body from traveling.

During this time, one of our Palestinian-American teachers, Nour Joudeh, was denied entry back into the country, despite her valid one year multiple entry visa. Our contacts at USAID’s offices in Tel Aviv are continually trying to help to obtain Nour’s re-admittance to Palestine. We pray she will be allowed back to be with her students soon.

Additionally, we are in our annual negotiation with the staff committee. Each year the committee sends word they will strike if their demands are not met. While it is distracting, we know that this is part of the culture and the union-like staff committee will continue to try and maximize benefits for staff despite the very good package they are receiving. This time, however, we are attempting to create a 5-year deal allowing us a rest from the annual gruesome negotiation process.

I am excited to be finalizing an agreement with Fielding Nair who will be commissioned to do master-planning for both campuses as well as the design of a new building on the Upper School campus. The new building will be supported through ASHA.

The e-tapestry end-of-year appeal was distributed and the online donations received were numerous. The feedback was wonderful and many of the messages received were heartwarming indeed.
On a personal note, I have tremendously enjoyed the holidays with Ziad and Tareq as well as my parents visiting… what a blessing it was to be together again.

Joyce Ajlouny