I'm leaving Palestine on Saturday to return to America. The other day, I met for the last time with a group of high school senior girls from the village of Kharbatha Beni Hareth.
Once a week, I taught them a little English and they taught me a lot about Palestinian culture and village life. During the period of the class, one of my students announced proudly that she had just become engaged to her cousin, Mohammad, who was the brother of another student. I congratulated her. She said she would marry in the summer and still hoped to attend college. They all, in fact, would like to attend college, but to do so they must score well on the end-of-high school exam administered in the summer. The English portion of the exam counts for one-quarter of the overall grade, so their voluntary attendance at my class was important to them.
The last class, they surprised me with a "lunch," which was more like a feast. They each brought a dish: maqlouba, mousakhen, pizza, salad ... Will you remember us in five years, one of them asked me. Yes, I promised. I will.