Palestinian youth tell the human stories behind the numbers in the news

Palestinian youth tell the human stories behind the numbers in the news

Life as classroom: teaching English in Gaza

Ghada Ahmed | 10-09-2015

I teach English at the International British Centre in Gaza City and, recently, we taught a lesson about how to tell a story. I showed my students several videos with strong narrative stories, asked them to listen to and interpret several others, then asked them to write one of their own (like we do at We Are Not Numbers!).

When the course was about to finish, the teachers had a meeting with our boss. Each one of us was asked to work with our students on a special activity that would help them practice their English. Our boss always emphasizes creative ways to practice! I couldn't make up my mind, so I asked my level-four students, aged 15-17, what they would like to do. "Can you give us the chance to work on something similar to the videos you showed us about storytelling? We can be the actors and one of us can be the narrator," one of them suggested. They all agreed!

I wanted to choose a specific topic I myself would like to write about as well, and Gaza was our theme, so we chose a challenge everyone faces here: the troubles people face as a result of the constant closing of Egypt’s Rafah Crossing, one of only two ways to leave and enter the Strip. The character of Hadeel in the script is sort of patterned after me, since my own dream is to get a scholarship and study creative writing abroad.

To include a more hopeful message in the video as well, I included one of my poems in the script—one that I wrote to express that there is still hope and determination in Gaza in spite of the darkness and misery. One of my students also suggested including a short part from the song, "Do You Hear the People Sing?," at the end of the video.

I assigned a role to each of my students and I asked my little sister, Nada, who is 8 years old, to play the young child.  We had four rehearsal sessions before the final performance and the students enjoyed practicing English in this way so much!

This video was the outcome and I feel so proud of my students and thankful to the IBC staff for giving me the opportunity to do it. 

The cast
Ghada's students: the cast of the video

Posted September 11, 2015


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