Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Our Trip to the Galilee (or Inclusion Vindicated) part two

Near the second river we waded along, we reached the Kinneret (sea of Galilee). On seeing it, and being told that THIS is the Kinneret, Ricki nodded in recognition (the Kinneret being one of those few landmarks on the map that Ricki was expected to be able to label). She gazed and added with wonder: “Gosh, its BIG!” She hurried to point it out and “share” her discovery with her classmates. We quickly reached Tiberius. There I took some pictures of Ricki along the shore.
The nicest part of the trip was the boat ride we took for an hour on the sea. It was a big boat, and the girls sang and danced. And Ricki was a part of the crowd, amongst everyone, included in the entire goings on.
As I watched, a happy bystander (I wanted Ricki to be with her friends WITHOUT me tagging along). my mind flashed back several years. At that time Ricki had been in first grade, at a different school. At the end of the school year, we received a disk with short videos of different highlights of the school year. I was horrified when I noticed that in all of the shots taken during the class trip, and even most of the in-class shots, Ricki was with her aide… and ONLY the aide. She was separate from the other girls, and “included” only in the fact that she sat in the same classroom. Yes, the girls would wave to her on the street, but never, in all of her three years there, did a classmate phone her. This school (which at the time was the ONLY school willing to accept her) was the school whose principal repeatedly told me that I was crazy to “include” Ricki. Eventually, I could see that they were not willing to learn to do things differently, and indeed I would be “crazy” to leave her there. I managed to transfer her after third grade to this different school. Here the studies are harder (this school jumped her up to her age level; in the previous one she had been two years behind her age group), but the girls accepted her… truly accepted her. In this school trip she was no leper.

I wish the principal of the first school could have seen her on that trip.

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