My First Day in Peqi'in!



I don't even know where to begin. But I will try my utmost to describe my first-day experience living and settling into a Druze village!

As you might have read on my About Me page or my Facebook statuses, I am presently staying and volunteering in a tiny Druze village far north in Israel - quite unbelievably close to the borders of Lebanon and Syria. The Lebanese border is only less than twenty kilometres from where I am staying!

This teeny, weeny place, nestled in between and up along the mountainous region of Northern Galilee - about 2,000 metres above sea level - is known as the age-old village of Peqi'in. Few people (even Israelis) would have heard of this remote place. It has a small population of about 5,400 inhabitants and everyone pretty much knows everybody else. More than 70% of the village belong to Druze families, while the other 30% are mainly Christian and then Muslim.

I arrived at Peqi'in after a three and a half hour journey from Jerusalem with my fellow volunteer mates, Tatiana and Katerina. They are both lovely ladies from Czech Republic. I learnt that I am the third volunteer to come to this village!

When we arrived, I soon realized that there were no street signs nor house numbers. Although the roads are fairly well-paved and the neighborhood is clean, you can tell that this is truly a small village - far, far away from the city lights and incessant chaos of the likes of Tel Aviv and maybe even Jerusalem.

It all began to sink in a little more when I realized that very few people spoke English on a conversational level. In fact, I had a sinking gut feeling that most people would not be capable of answering my questions or of holding a proper conversation with me no matter how hard I tried to communicate. I was beginning to feel a little more than overwhelmed at this sudden realization!

Everyone here speaks fluent Arabic (that is their first language at home) as well as Hebrew - which is a compulsory language at school in addition to English. However, most of the students in the Druze communities (and there are sixteen such Druze villages in the Northern region of Israel) are not capable of conversational English due to the fact that they have no one to practice speaking it with. Unlike Hebrew or Arabic speakers in the urban cities and towns (who would have more encounters with tourists as well as foreign  English teachers), the students in Druze village schools hardly have the opportunity to use the English that they learn at school. As a result, many of their young people struggle with English and very few end up going to universities (because Israeli universities require students to speak, read & write English well enough to learn university subjects in English).

So this is one of the reasons why the leaders and parents of the Druze community and council have decided that they want to open up their homes and schools to foreign volunteers - so that their children and families will have the unique opportunity to learn English in a practical way. This is truly a pioneering program, and I thank God for such an unheard-of opportunity to volunteer in a community that has once always been a closed door to the outside world due to the secret principles of the Druze religion. I don't have time to write about the Druze faith here, but if you Google it, I'm sure you'll find some information, although they are extremely scarce due to the level of secrecy kept by the orthodox Druze religious leaders.

Anyhow, I just realized that I have not even begun writing about my experience and impressions of the Druze village I am in! I have only so far brushed the surface by attempting to paint you the picture with simple facts and general observations of the Druze community.

Stay tuned for my next journal entry, as I will write about the people I have met so far, the funniest things that have happened, the things that have taken me by surprise, the answered prayers, the family I am living with, the challenges I am facing and the language barrier that I am attempting each day to overcome!


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The Difference

Wayfarers walk by faith and dream with eyes wide open. Living simply, they go places, break barriers, embrace people, and build bridges. They're cool if things go wrong; it's the journey that counts. They like being on their own, but love the company of like-minded people anytime! Wayfarers love to hang with the locals, make music in unusual places, and share stories. They're creative about ways to touch the world both on the home turf and on the road. Wayfarers are on the life-long odyssey of discovery with hearts anchored in Faith, Hope and Love.

 

The Wayfarer

The Wayfarer
Get in touch with Janielle: janiellebeh@gmail.com :)

About the Author

Hello, my name is Janielle, a 23 year-old muso based in Melbourne. Join me on my unpredictably audacious quest to embrace people of peace in tough places, use music to inspire creative education, spark spiritual conversations that challenge the status quo, and collaborate with like-minded young people to catalyze passion for Jesus' mission of reconciliation through acts of justice, truth and compassion among the young & free. Being a nomad at heart, I find ‘home’ when I stay with people on the ground, encounter the culture & discover what life's like for others. One Life | One Love | One Legacy.

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