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The Young Orator

“The Young Orator” is a new project launched by the Social Development Committee in cooperation with the Stella Maris Rotary Club. Students from fifth to tenth grade will compete in a public speaking competition in modern standard Arabic. The reason behind using modern standard Arabic instead of the more familiar local Arabic slang- that varies according to region- is to lessen students’ fear of the Arabic language. Arab students despise Arabic classes and fear their mother tongue, and with the advancement of technology and social media, Arabic has become heavy on those who speak it- youth.

Arabic language coordinators from all of Haifa’s Arab schools met on February 5 2018 where the SDC and Rotary Club first pitched the idea to them. Two weeks later, on February 19, the coordinators met again, this time with public speech specialist, Dr. Saleh Abboud.

Dr. Abboud discussed the art of public speaking in order to guide the coordinators in choosing the best orator among their students. Dr. Abboud started by defining oration, saying it is a way to meet face to face with the public to convince them of a certain idea through persuasion and charm. Dr. Abboud presented the historic importance of oration in Arab civilization and broke down its components, and he presented the standards set for a good orator in terms of personality and body language.

The project will be held over the next four months and end in May 2018, where professional judges will evaluate the final contestants who won the internal competitions in their own school. 

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Christmas Spirit at the SDC

The Christmas spirit means love and generosity; this is why the SDC’s Woman’s Forum organized a visit to Qalb Yasou’ institution, which gives educational and social services to children with special needs all year round. Boys and girls received gifts from “Santa Clause”, Mr. Nicola Abdo, with Christmas spirit to draw a smile on their faces and plant joy in their hearts.

The SDC’s Youth Leadership Group went to the Carmel Hospital of Haifa accompanied by Mr. Nicola Abdo and SDC staff members, where they handed out candy to the children, nurses, and doctors in the children’s ward.

The Youth Leadership Group started meeting weekly around two months ago, bringing together 10th graders from around Haifa under the SDC’s project “Safe Community”. In a conversation with the Women’s Forum coordinator, Ms. Farida Badran, and the Youth Leadership Group coordinator, Ms. Areen Awad, we learn that such activates are important because they celebrate social solidarity and communication between different social groups during the holidays. The SDC gives special thanks to Mr. Nicola Abdo and Mr. Elias Haddad for cooperating with the SDC in providing gifts for the children.

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Informative Session on Inheritance

The Orthodox Women’s Forum of Haifa hosted Fadi Abboud to give a lecture on testaments and inheritance. Abboud, who is a lawyer in the Social Development Committee’s rights department, started by defining inheritance to them, he then explained testaments, how to write them, and how to edit them, mentioning situations where editing a will is recommended.

It is noted that the presentation was met with curiosity and interest from the listeners, who asked questions and had discussions, hoping to repeat such a session in this topic that is of relevance and interest to them. The women have set a date for another informative session with Abboud.

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Alternative Methods at an Alternative School

Last Monday, the Social Development Committee organized a workshop for teachers during a special school day at the independent Hiwar School for alternative learning. The workshop discusses the relationship between teacher and student and its vital role in promoting motivation to learn and sense of belonging to the school. Dr. Amer Jaraysi, education and communal therapy expert, directed and led the workshop.

The workshop presented techniques on how to build a student-teacher relationship and how to apply it in the classroom. Dr. Jaraysi and the teachers discussed the hardships that come with student-teacher interactions; this includes previous negative experiences and irrationally high or unrealistic expectations. He explained how to develop this relationship through positive support, individualized attention, and making house visits and phone calls when necessary.

Dr. Jaraysi and the teachers compared traditional student-teacher relationships to the desired modern student-teacher relationship, which centralizes closeness and attendance, mutual respect, not hurting feelings, and freedoms and wishes of both parties. Dr. Jaraysi sees it important to pinpoint the modern teacher’s power, which focuses on four pillars of censorship and presence: physical, emotional, behavioral, and collective attendance from the teacher.

Dr. Jaraysi also warned about the seven factors that could lead to aggressiveness in students: critique on negative behavior, arguments, logic, questioning negative behavior, mocking, threatening, and devastation. Successful techniques for problem solving between teacher and student were presented. The “ABCD” technique works on teachers’ explanation of a certain event, because slight differences in explanation can build different ideas and therefor interfere with the reaction. Another module: “Breath”; is considered an important tool to work on internal dialogue and rearticulating thoughts in order to have a wise conversation with the student.

The school administration and teachers praised the workshop. They recognize the vitality of such a program, and think it should continue. In her comment, Faiha Awad, SDC education activities director, says these activities are important because of the positive impression they leave on teachers. It encourages them to widen their horizons and adopt alternative teaching methods when handling students. These methods are part of “The Safe Community” project that the SDC has relied on for years to help achieve a safe and healthy environment inside and outside our schools.

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No Room for a Counselor’s Room

Al-Hewar School for Alternative Learning- Art and Creativity is an Arab elementary school in Haifa facing numerous problems. The cause of these problems is shortage of spaces. This is incompatible with the school’s vision, which is to be a school for art and creativity, the first its kind for Arabs in Haifa.

The school is overcrowded, which is causing violence between students. The school is missing essential rooms and facilities such as a library, gym, laboratory, computer room, a school counselor’s room, and an adequate teacher’s lounge.

The location of the school also poses a problem: traffic caused by shortage of parking spaces disrupts classes. This also makes the school’s location unsafe for young children who walk to their nearby homes.

In 2013, concerned parents from the school met with the Mayor of Haifa in order to bring his attention to the situation and request an immediate solution. The parents then appointed Mossawa Center to follow the case, who in turn sent letters to officials demanding action. These letters did not receive anything in return other than empty promises without obligation or commitment to following through.

This is why al-Hewar School Parents Committee, the Social Development Committee, the Organization for Distributive Justice, and the Haifa University Law Clinic-which is in cooperation with Mossawa Center- are now working hand in hand to find a solution. These organizations sent another letter to the mayor of Haifa and the Israeli Ministry of Education; where they asked for the parties to abide the laws and conditions set by the Ministry of Education itself since al-Hewar school does not enjoy the services it rightfully deserves.

The letter also warned that failing to attend to al-Hewar school’s needs would result in legal action against the neglectful parties.Samar Qudha, a lawyer from the University of Haifa Legal Clinic, has sent numerous letters over the past few months to the Mayor of Haifa and the Haifa district executive in the Israeli Ministry of Education. In the letter, Qudha requested a solution with its own timetable and budget.

So far, efforts have not been successful; official circles are still neglecting the Arab students of al-Hewar school and are not attending to this pressing matter.

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About

The Social Development Committee is a nongovernmental organization established by and for Arabs in Haifa in 1982. It gives services to the Arab community in Haifa and aims to develop their living  conditions, as well as enhancing their sense of belonging and identity in the community which was shattered in the Nakba (1948 catastrophe) when they were separated from the majority of the community and lived under military rule until 1967.  The SDC depends on moral values that aim to help the collective community without segregation and offers its services to all neighborhoods. 

The SDC had different approaches since its establishment. The first was pivoted towards providing services for the community. This included educational training courses, assisting those in need, provision of dental services and supporting people in solving problems with the municipality. 

In the second was attempting to strengthen the ability of our community to withstand problems and to present issues before authorities. 

With the increase of the SDC’s competencies and resources, it extended its activities to all areas of life, which include opposing official policies of discrimination and redefining relations within Palestinian society. 

The SDC is currently tackling two main issues: housing and cyber bullying.