I was lying in bed in front of the tent playing with the crystal clean sand of the desert. Everything was deadly silent and I was just gazing vacantly at the horizon, up the dune onto the gleaming halo of the yet to rise moon. The moon peeped slowly from behind the dune shedding its magic on the silent extensive desert. It rose slowly and seemed to cover the whole horizon as I stared into it flowing up.
As two-third of it was still down the dune, I saw a head tossed right in the middle of its hale; a head, then shoulders then a full silhouette of a man heading right at me, in the middle of the moon. Contoured by the fullmoon, a tripping up and down body in its hasty strides, was heading at me. I was surprised to see my uncle coming at that late night; his tent was behind the dune a bit away from ours. I could hear his hasty breath as he came closer striving the slippery sands.
Finally he reached and without a word sat on his butt beside my bed. Silently he started to have a handful sand between his legs and let it flow between his fingers, and out of a sudden he said:
“ I thought you would be awake and I came to see you before you leave. I might not catch you tomorrow morning.” And then he pulled a tiny piece of paper out of his loose Jalabeyya pocket and handed it to me:
“Look Sami! This is an address of a good man I know in the city, he will help you, just tell him my Uncle Salem sent me.”
He kept dazing in the sand between his legs leaning his head onto his hands as if speaking to the desert, its own silent language. I didn’t utter a word; I was a kind of sad to leave the desert to the unknown nowhere. Then uncle Salem got up slowly: “I trust you Sami, I am full confident of you, just go, good luck!” then strode back down the dune: “Good night Sami! Say hi to Abu-George- the address I gave you- he’s a great man.”
That was my first steps out of the desert, such a little Bedouin boy who had just finished his high school in a tiny school in a semi-deserted village, heading to the open “civilized” world, a world that has never stopped from bewildering that child with a new surprise with every rising sun.
The next morning, I was excited to wake up very early as my mom was mumbling her down prayers. I took my already packed bag, the only one I had for school and traveling. I strived up and down several dunes to reach finally the only street crossing the desert by sunrise, the time when the only bus that headed to the city in the morning and came back in the evening to serve the scattered tribal gatherings and tiny villages. We arrived the city hours later and I went right to the college to apply at the registrar office to find a bizarre world of “civilized’ people hardly paying attention when talking to you, but a beautiful lady looked direct at my eyes smiling: “Great grades!” and went on typing to her bizarre machine.
College and Jail:
Everything went fine that day and I don’t know why I had that melancholic feeling though I was sure to be admitted to the subject I wanted, the subject that exhausted my mind sweetly at school, the bewildering Physics!
I went back to the city, actually not a city but a small town that looked like a village then more than a “civilized” town. It didn’t take long to find Abu-George and I was shocked a long bearded Christian clergyman. ‘What the hell I am doing here? A Crusader?’, I thought to myself, but that charming smile of Abu-George and the big hug he gave me when I mentioned Salem, my uncle, eased everything, and a long torturing bewildering world started to open in front of my eyes, the least was the religion issue.
I opened my eyes and mind to that overwhelming flow of dramatic changes and I owe a lot to that ever smiling Abu-George, not only in his house and the neighborhood, but also the university where he had lots of connections and much respect.
My “philosophy” as it is referred to by the pedant pedagogues? What mission can a “primitive” Bedouin have coming out of the desert to civilize the already civilized?
My first year at the college went excellent, but then everything has changed dramatically- and it was a must change- when I got to get into the circle of resistance, a resistance which is must for every occupied to launch. Soon I was taken to jail to spend several precious years in which I had learnt more than what I wanted, more than what my primitive Bedouin mind can acquire in decades. I got out of jail a different man, a man who could devour hundreds-if not thousands- of books, pamphlets, smuggled forbidden researches in all kind of knowledge you can imagine; Politics, Security, Philosophy, Aesthetics, Literature, Religion, theology, Military Studies, Sociology, weaponry, Psychology etc…. But the more you learn the more you feel that you are still illiterate, still primitive swimming vainly in the chopping ocean of the vast extensive knowledge!
I went back to college putting academia aside and got more deep into the students affairs, as an occupied student, your first “mission” should be fighting for your freedom, simply because without freedom you are nothing, you are just a slave endeavoring to live on the trash the occupiers give you. I got into jail for the second, the third and the sixth time, and each time more determined to be free, to stay free! I finished the college in more than double years of the normal “peaceful” student but I never regretted my own way that I carved with my own hands.
In a normal country you might find a decent job easily with a BA qualification, not an excellent job but a one that you can manage your life decently. That’s in a normal country, but under occupation, where you are targeted in your bread, where corruption is deep rooted within the occupation agents’ bones, you have no choice but to fight both occupation and its agents. I had to work in construction for another couple of years where I can get my bread with a dignified head.
When I first read in the jail the masterpiece Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire, I never thought I would be a teacher, but that book had opened my mind to things beyond what is going on in schools and even within the bureaus of Ministry of Education, it is the politics of education.
Teaching is a mission but not just conducting a class and delivering information. “Don’t put limits for your thinking, even the skies”, this is what I say to my students all the time; if you don’t unleash the mind of your students, you will get slaves or robots miming what they are fed.
Our curricula have been shuffled and reshuffled systematically to suite the donor countries’ “philosophy” to support and legitimize the Zionist occupation. And, where every single word in our English Curricula is dictated from London, one has to have a critical mind and critical way of teaching. Where you are systematically fought against as a nation, you got to insert your national identity and national affiliation in every single class to bring the student back to the fact that we are an occupied people in the first place and things will never be normal unless we get free and have our own independence to draw our own future.
One won’t be a successful “teacher” unless having a message, a commitment and a thorough knowledge with a critical free mind, a mind that is able see beyond what is dictated to him, to foresee the thorough panorama of the politics of teaching, not only within the school and the local community, but in the broader sphere of the world politics that inevitably interferes in the local educational system.
Sami, the Bedouin.