Exciting New Programs, and COVID-19 Response, Highlight Sindiana’s Successful Third Year

The Sindiana Arab Youth Village, a partnership between SAE and the nearby Arab Communities designed to develop young leaders for the Israeli Arab community has completed its third year. The school continues to grow and develop in many areas, including formal and informal education, the school’s relationship with the community, and staff development. The village’s residence provides a unique educational solution to Arab youth from the north to south of the country, with some 35 students living in the residence during the year, before the Covid-19 crisis, when all students returned home.

During the Covid-19 crisis, when the country was in lockdown and schools were closed, classes were held online, via the Zoom platform. This required extensive learning in the use of the technology by both students and staff. Everyone rose to the challenge, however, and the year’s studies were completed successfully.

New Initiatives:

Great Works Project: This special project, which relates to all of the school’s foundations – leadership, excellence, and culture and identity – was initiated and developed by the informal education staff. It centers around cultural works such as books, plays, and musicals, which are studied in depth for a month by the entire school community of students, staff, and parents.

The first work studied this year was “The Ring Seller,” a musical from the 60s starring the famous Lebanese singer Fairouz, with music by the Rahbani brothers. The work has been produced as a musical, a TV movie, and a written text, and deals with human relationships, truth, and deception. Students watched the musical and movie in classes and at home with their parents. Teachers chose excerpts from the text, read them in class, and discussed them in English, Hebrew and Arabic. Fairouz’s music was played throughout the school during the month of study. Students were inspired by the musical, and created works of their own – drawings and paintings, an exhibition of photos of Fairouz, plays, and songs. Discussions of the musical took place, including the insights it provides into the reality in which the students live.

The highlight event, attended by hundreds of people (students, parents, and the public at large) included several elements: Students presented plays, songs, dances, or art works that they had created; a panel including parents, students, and teachers discussed the experience of students and parents watching a musical or movie from the 60s together, and a number of issues it raised regarding its relevance to contemporary life. The panel was facilitated by Ala Yunis, teacher of culture and identity, who was in charge of the project. A lecture about authority and freedom in the works of Rahbani family, and their participation in the musical was presented by Dr. Ayman Agbariya, Head of Sindiana’s Steering Committee.

The second work studied in the project this year was the classic book “Kalila wa Dimna,” written in the fourth century in India, and later translated into Persian, Arabic, and other languages. The book is a collection of fables told by animals, each with its own message, moral, and insights into reality. The book was also read by parents and teachers in various languages, discussions regarding the book’s messages and how they relate to our world were held, and a central event for the entire school community focusing on the book was held via Zoom, as it was already during the Covid-19 crisis.

Sindiana Fingerprints: A project in which each class took on volunteer work outside the school for a week. The students volunteered in Arab villages, hospitals, seniors’ homes, and other schools. Each day during the week, students went out by bus to their volunteer destinations. The type of work they did included: painting walls and planting flowers in towns, painting tires to create environmental artistic sculptures; helping seniors, facilitating activities with them and learning about their lives, which helped deepen intergenerational relationships; assisting people with disabilities; and preparing classes on a variety of subjects – the environment, road safety, healthy living, and more – and teaching them to younger students at other schools.

Forum of Senior Scientists: In this new project, Arab scientists at academic institutions in Israel or overseas, who are outstanding in their fields, are invited to become “Friends of Sindiana.” Within this framework, the scientists meet with teachers in their subject of expertise, and with all students, and speak about their experiences, becoming models and inspiration for teachers and students. This year, Prof. Ashraf Brik from the Technion, the first Arab chemistry professor in the country, with an international reputation, came to Sindiana, met with all the science teachers, and lectured to students and parents about his educational route, his experiences, and about chemistry.

We plan to continue with this project and add one to two professors per year in additional central fields (if there are no Arab professors in the fields on which we wish to focus, we will bring non-Arab professors). In addition to their work with students and staff, the professors also become ambassadors for Sindiana within their academic institutions, which will help open doors to collaborations and facilitate preparation for university. Each lecturer receives a small sculpture of the Sindiana logo, indicating that he or she is a Friend of Sindiana.

Theater matriculation track: This year, in addition to science and humanities tracks, Sindiana opened a five-point theater matriculation track, which students can study together with other subjects. This is the beginning of a trend to include arts and culture in the school as tracks in which students can major. The theater track is coordinated by Jwad Abed Elgany, theater teacher and director of Sindiana’s residence. We hope that, in coming years, matriculation tracks in cultural subjects such as music and plastic arts will be added.

First graduating class: Sindiana is a growing school, adding classes each year, and this year marked its first graduating class, with students writing full matriculation exams despite the Covid-19 crisis, observing Ministry of Health guidelines. In a warm and heartfelt ceremony, modest due to the circumstances but large in significance, and “attended” by parents, family, and friends via social media, the eight girls and ten boys graduating were congratulated by their teachers and representatives of the Society for Advancement of Education. The graduates have received support in everything related to future studies, choosing a major subject, and preparation for onward life.

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