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Freshlings are what first-year students are nicknamed at Reed College in Oregon. It was Kiota's preferred college as an experimental school; the second experimental one was Evergreen, where she started a year ago next week.

College anywhere is like a dance. Sometimes your feet get stepped on and other times your legs get hugged and your fingers get played with. Hopefully you end up with more huggles than ankle bruises.

Salam is also a first-year student, in an open university in Beit Jalah near her home in the refugee camp in Bethlehem. She started an accounting / business sequence last Sunday and started teaching theatre at al-Rowwad.

Kiota sent me her first-Quarter reading list, Made For Contemplation, an arcane philosophy thread based on something called 'the Numinous'. She got right out of that in the second Quarter. It struck me as an acquired taste and fairly irrelevant and very dense.

Salam and I talked about various aspects of business and I explained to her what interlinked international financial markets were and what auditing was. I imagine that after the events of last week she is learning a lot right out of the headlines.

Another warm parallel was that, at the end of her life, Ki and I were on twin computers one night in the library: she fought with an abortionist and I worked on editing a report for a student in LA. Last week, Salam and I were on twin computers in the theatre office, I'd written her an Email and it came up on her screen in Arabic, which was a first-time thing for me. I also turned her on to the internet movie database so she could futz around with research on her favourite actresses, the main one being Meg Ryan.

Since both Ki and Salam had grown up in war zones, I was suprised to find out how non-political Ki was compared to S. Of course Ki's family lives under threat of attack from Palestinian terrorists and their town is guarded by checkpoints manned [and womaned] by the army, the same one who attacked the al-Rowwad building with tanks and shot up the theatre school's computers one afternoon and killed Woud's mom --- one of Salam's companion actresses, as her mom was trying to get Woud out of danger. Woud being nine at the time.

I expected that Kiota, as an Israeli, would be engaged with the history but she simply wasn't. Even when her beautiful synagogue was desecrated with swastikas and its religious artifacts trashed by a night raid: her teacher pointed it out to me, it sits on a hill overlooking Ki's former high school. It's been repaired now but the attack scarred everyone in town and the students as well.

Mostly all of this tells me that despite running up something like 168 credit hours from three colleges and working on my boss's Ph.D. thesis in Ed Psych from U-Texas, I still can feel like a first-year student freshling.

Part of this is the excitement of discovering something new [and someONE new.] That's timeless.

Another part of this is the abhorrence of discovering how much hatred there is between these nations. And hopelessness from many Palestinians. I mean, you have got to go there and watch what is in people's eyes. Doesn't come out of a book. It sears you. It's like Ki burning my arm instead of her own.

And that is timeless too.

Some military ed too, also last week. There's a 14-year-old boy who is dead who will never take any more classes; shot by the IDF as he lighted a Molotov cocktail on fire, in answer to 200 Israeli civilians who had gone on a rampage [that's the newspaper word] against Arabic people who were attacking their town. Recalling 18-year-old Ayat al-Akhras, who was about to become a freshling when an Israeli artillery shell blew up a house down her street: she went to a suicide school instead and majored in plastic explosive belts targeting the army, but panicked and blew up 17-year-old Rachel Levy as they both entered a market, Rachel to buy food for Shabbas seder.

And the time Matat Rosenfeld was murdered by terrorist drive-by gunmen as she hitchhiked for a ride at the same place Anna Rosenfeld always used. No relation...it seemed at the time.

I'd like to think that because Salam has a solid theatre ed and has traveled to Europe and America and Canada with various casts, she'll stay with drama ed and accounting, not revenge.

One of the last things K wrote was "I can't see this ever improving." "I can't do this, it's always the same and it just hurts more."

She wasn't referring to an outside war, but to her own internal ones.

Certainly she didn't choose that major. It chose her.

And Salam watched Woud's mother die, and Salam grew up in a family where both her parents and grandparents suffered economic disasters and emotional ones because of the wars over her homeland. Salam did not choose that, either.

When you're a freshling you never quite know what you will learn next.

Like what starts and what ends and what starts again.

And what does not end at all.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 24th, 2008 06:05 pm (UTC)
Thanks for sharing this, with me in my safe little American bubble. Gives me a reality check. If there's one thing I have learned, it's to never lose hope in the world. If you do, all of the tragedies come crashing down on you and are just too much to handle. All of this violence can be changed... I hope.
Sep. 25th, 2008 08:16 am (UTC)
We are all interlinked with things happening to people everywhere: next post.

So I dunno about being in a safe bubble in America or anywhere.

Loss of hope and loss of dreams are both tragic, and can be fatal. As we know too well...
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 25th, 2008 07:35 pm (UTC)
Absolutely. The greatest favor you can do for someone is to listen to their depths with an open and accepting heart, and then gently suggest how you think they might regain some hope as a foundation to build brightness on, once again.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )


kiota too late for the stars
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