Palestinians switch to speaking Russian
Russia uses not only a hard power policy but also a soft one in the Middle East. One of the organizations dealing with the humanitarian component is the Russian Humanitarian Mission (RHM), which develops and implements educational programs, emergency assistance programs, medical programs, as well as humanitarian projects with full logistical support.
Deputy Director General of the mission, Irina Vasilieva, tells about educational and cultural enlightenment projects of the RHM in the Middle East: "We have started to work in Palestinian schools. We went to the Bethany school (a girls' school at the Convent of Mary Magdalene of Gethsemane) to look at the conditions for teachers and evaluate the workload. But the leadership of Rossotrudnichestvo, which was in Bethlehem back then, literally prayed, saying that there is another school - a school of Russian-Palestinian friendship for boys, but it is not taught Russian language there. We were asked to join the project of teaching Russian there as well. That is how our first project in Palestine started. Highly qualified specialists from the Pushkin State Russian Language Institute, who taught Russian as a foreign language went there. But it turned out that the school for boys in Bethlehem is mostly attended by boys from the refugee camp, which is nearby, and they do not know English, that is, English cannot be an intermediary language, because our teachers did not know Arabic".
This task was solved by creating a Russian language textbook with the support of the National Charitable Foundation. So, Arabic language became the intermediary language in the textbook. "Children who study Russian, especially in the school for boys, demonstrate a great interest in Russian culture. Of course, the great merit for this goes to the school director Walid Al-Khatib, a graduate of the Soviet high school. Graduates of Russian and Soviet universities actively assist us. In the countries and regions where we work, we rely on them in the first place. In this connection, the idea arose to attract children coming from Arab countries in accordance with the quota for work in this program. They will be integrated into the environment, which will give a completely different effect. We will try to cope with this task, although it is not easy, because the idea arose quite late, when the quota for recruitment in the Arab countries was already fulfilled," Vasilieva said.
According to her, "following the examinations of the first year, 10 best female pupils from the Bethany school arrived in Moscow and St. Petersburg. And this year 10 best men pupils will arrive in Moscow, and from there they will travel to Artek for a whole session".