by Jody Goldstein
The first step necessary in developing a partnership between individuals or groups is having the ability to communicate with one another. Our Partnership2Gether consortium consists of sixteen communities within three countries: Israel, Budapest, and the United States. While many languages may be spoken within our regions, the predominant ones are Hebrew, English, Arabic, and Hungarian. To be able to work together, we need to be able to speak with each other.
While attending the Partnership Discovery Trip, I spoke about developing a program to teach English to people in the Western Galilee. It would be a NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) program focused on teaching those who wanted, but did not have the opportunity, to learn. I imagined a program in a community center or coffee shop where Arab and Jewish children (and adults) would have the ability to study and practice English together. Creating a language-learning community would form a partnership within our Partnership. When Covid-19 eliminated the ability for me to travel to the Western Galilee to develop the program, the program rapidly shifted to one that would take place over Zoom, and “Café Anglit+” was born.
A little background about me: I am a long time educator with thirty-five years of experience developing and providing Special Education services for children in the Buffalo Public Schools. During my last year of full-time employment, I studied for and received a second Master’s Degree in TESL/TEFL (Teaching English as a Second, or Foreign, Language). My life plan was to combine my love for travel and my love for teaching into a post-retirement life of traveling around the world and obtaining short-term English teaching positions. Then, on the Partnership Discovery Trip, I fell in love with the Western Galilee, and wanted to focus my English teaching in that area. I wanted to develop a program that would build and strengthen ties to people within different communities, with different lifestyles, and with different belief systems.
In May, 2020 when the world was closed down, “Café Anglit+” opened its virtual doors after weeks of development. I piloted the program with three enthusiastic Israeli English language learners. We met for an hour each week, and we talked. Sometimes we followed the daily lesson plan practicing our vocabulary about food, or travel, or family... but we often strayed from those topics and talked about ourselves, our lives, our dreams, and our fears. As long as everyone spoke English, it was okay. For an hour each week we were a partnership of language learners sharing ourselves from one country to another in the comfort of our living rooms.
Since the program was piloted there have been six more language learning partnerships: two in Hebrew and four in English. All contained participants from at least two of the three countries of Partnership2Gether Western Galilee. Each group met for twelve weekly hour-long sessions. Planning is now underway for the next groups. If you are interested in facilitating or practicing English, Hebrew, Arabic, or Hungarian please let us know. What begins as a conversation may turn into a life-long partnership!
Jody Goldstein, Buffalo, New York “Café Anglit+” developer firstname.lastname@example.org