Photos and Text by Lydia Aisenberg
Within the space of a few weeks after the second MASA-Givat Haviva Intensive Arabic Semester finished, students began rolling in for the third IAS program. Students, teachers and administrative staff alike are picking up the challenge of yet another five month program involving dedicated educators dealing in the Arabic language and some Hebrew, Middle East studies and host of other topics connected to the wider mosaic of Judaism, Islam, Christianity and much more.
With the heat of the summer not being allowed to affect the beat of preparations, Efrat Hass has been sprucing up the rooms, class and recreation areas and figuring out all the do’s and do not’s for the new folks. Uri Barel pouring over figures literally figuring out logistics and budgets whilst Hilit Ben-Zvi, overall director of the program, has been sitting on top of a pressure pot as last minute hiccups need sorting out. Marketing man Inon Tagner, eager to meet the new students is also already with his head down throwing out his cyber net to trawl in students for the fourth Intensive Arabic Semester due to start 15th January, 2011.
In an emotional last get together before the students of the second IAS went their separate ways, students and staff gathered in the courtyard of the Hass family abode in Kibbutz Barkai for a barbecue, last minute thoughts and a great deal of hugs and promises to stay in touch. Eight of the nine students were present as the ninth graduate William Robbins had to return home to be best man at a friends wedding before the final days of the program. However although not physically present Will was at the gathering, albeit smiling at everybody from the screen of a laptop being held by Matthew Keston, one of the Brits in the group. Even though rather out of it in Birmingham, Alabama, Will heard and saw the goings on in the kibbutz gathering and even added some positive words about the innovative program started in 2009. L’hitraot to our second IAS student group and Shalom to the newcomers and anyone interested in the next Intensive Arabic Semester then please mark your calendars for January, 2011.