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Joyce Ajlouny Update – March/April

Celebrations and performances were the main focus for the entire Lower School in the month of December. All the hard work that went into preparation for the performances was evident in the wonderful choral program. Tala, the FGS librarian, recorded all performances and placed them on You Tube. Parents were delighted to be able to watch and share these videos. On the search bar on the YouTube home page, simply enter the words, “FGS Christmas Performances 2012,” and each performance will be listed.

Unfortunately, our joy during the Christmas season proved 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 nonviolence 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 Mira back 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 returning to the country despite her valid one-year multiple entry visa. Our contacts at USAID’s offices in Tel Aviv are continually trying to accomplish Nour’s re-admittance to Palestine. We pray that 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 that 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 five-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. Their services as well as the new building are supported through ASHA.