The question for my family in Tel Aviv of whether we should move up our flight in order to be in Canada in time for the unveiling quickly replaced itself with how many of my siblings, who live closer to my father in Toronto, would be able to attend the ceremony – if one could even be held.
Israel was one of the first countries to impose strict isolation rules. Canada and the United States didn’t take long to follow suit and shut borders.
We were and are locked out. We are also locked in.
More than 30 years since I left grade school, I’m back roaming the halls and stairways, visiting classrooms and teachers’ rooms, exploring courtyards and other areas of schools. This time around, I’m not stressed about marks or worried about friends, and I don’t care if I’m trendy or fashionable enough. My clown name is Oshi, and I’m there to infuse fun and good.
Send in the Clowns: Israel is home to the world's first educational clowning initiative
No one wants to be the school embarrassment. Well, almost no one. For educational clowns, being the blundering idiot and class failure is actually an objective.
Educational clowns are the newest colorful characters on Israel’s flourishing therapeutic clowning scene. Similar to medical clowns, these red-nosed buffoons assist in reducing stress and anxiety among students, teachers and other educational staff in the school setting as their counterparts do in a medical center.
According to a UN report, 130 million people are affected by conflict and disaster across the globe. Israel, though a small country, has a big presence when it comes to humanitarian aid and has rallied round refugees from Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Rwanda, Chechnya, Indonesia, Haiti, Burma, Ivory Coast, Eritrea, Kenya, Palestinian Authority territories and many other places.
Ordinary Israelis take extraordinary action to help Syrians
Private initiatives by ordinary Israelis continue to gather much needed clothing and medical aid for the Syrian people. A crowdfunding campaign to bring emergency supplies to embattled Syrians is also ongoing and has raised over $190,000 in four days so far.
“Nearly 25 percent of the world’s population lives in poverty and we have the knowhow to help. We realized there was an opportunity to create a school and share our knowledge of high-tech farming practices,” AICAT Director Hanni Arnon said.
Established with the mission of bringing in students from underdeveloped regions, AICAT has partnerships with Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF), Partnership2Gether, MASHAV and CINADCO-The Center for International Agricultural Development Cooperation within the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
“Because of JNF and AICAT, we’re getting the knowledge and experience we need to rebuild our country,” said Binod Ghimire, an AICAT student from Nepal.