Foreigner

4:41 AM 0 Comments

As we quickly approach our second Aliyahversary (anniversary of making Aliyah), I realize that we have not written a blog in almost a year. I re-read the last post that I wrote and I can say that it rings true even more now than it did ten months ago. After welcoming our first Sabra (natural born Israeli) into our family this May (and becoming a mom of four, a family of six), to say this summer has been hectic would be an understatement. Being home all day with a 5-year-old, 4-year-old , 2-year-old, and 3-month-old has been one of the most exhausting things I have ever had to do. I have, however, come out on the other side.

This week is back to school week everywhere. I see Facebook posts of all of my friends' and family's kids going back to school. I see posts of all of my friends who work in education (teachers, administrators, service providers, consultants) going back to school. A part of me longs for the familiarity of it.

However, after 2 years, I am beginning to anticipate the cycle of the year here. It is our second first week of school and in some ways, I feel more confident that I know what to expect. I knew which forms I needed to fill out for daycare and preschool and I was able to do it without help. I knew what to expect this first week as far as a schedule (last year I was blindsided at the last minute with graduated end times to the school day). I know the teachers. I know the assistants. I know the lunch menu in the afterschool program. I feel at home there. The staff knows my kids and their siblings. The other parents know who the kids belong to and vice versa. Familiarity.

On the other hand, this Fall we are facing a  great unknown here. Our oldest is starting first grade. I am well aware that no matter where we were living this time period would be filled with emotion and new experiences. Doing it here in a language other than my native language has proved to be challenging and overwhelming. In truth, we are full of excitement for this coming year, there are a lot of familiarities. Many of the children in his class are the children he went to Gan Hova (kindergarten) with. His first-grade teacher is a parent here in the yishuv that substituted once a week in his kindergarten class. There were school supplies to buy and clothes and sneakers to get ready. All of this, I could handle without blinking an eye.

I miss the details. At the end of the school year, I received an e-mail with information about going up to first-grade. As I understood it, we were supposed to contact the school secretary and schedule a time for a 1:1 meeting at the school. I did this. At our scheduled time Adam and I (newborn in tow) showed up at the school and waited patiently in the lobby. After a couple of minutes, the secretary walked by and asked us if our son had already gone into his meeting. We stared back confused and said no. "Where is your child?" she asked. I responded: "In Gan( kindergarten)." She smiled broadly and explained that the meeting is for the parents with the child and that we had enough time to go back and get him. So we did. Oops.

I sometimes miss the differences. For example, in public school here you either have to purchase your child's books or rent them from the school. I missed the date to rent books because I didn't understand that it even existed. Luckily they still allowed me to rent them late. Oops.

As the years progress, I anticipate that I will learn much more about the way that the Israeli public school system works and after putting 4 kids through it will even become, dare I say, an expert. But right now, sitting in my house looking at a pile of wholly unfamiliar school supplies and reading letters in Hebrew from my son's teacher, I couldn't feel more foreign.

Good luck to everyone embarking on a new school year. May it be a year filled with fun, success, and learning. (And hopefully no more Oops).

Thoughtfully written by:

Rachel Hopkins

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