To Offer an Olive Branch: An ESL* Teaching Tool Inspired by “Where Olive Trees Weep”

These words flowed off my lips as they connected with a dawn notification on my smartphone about an upcoming film to be released on June 27, 2024, titled “Where Olive Trees Weep.” I experienced such strong emotions and a sense of déjà vu that it was almost overwhelming. How could I feel such a connection to events I knew nothing about?

“Where Olive Trees Weep” is a brutally honest and tearful film. Its message is clear: it’s not politically biased but calls for extending an olive branch to a land where thousands of trees have been uprooted, both figuratively and in reality.

Personal Experience

Tutoring Palestinian Children and Adults

Why do I tutor Palestinian students and others globally? Because I can! Every adult deserves the opportunity to learn English. My old Mum always said, “If you help one person read and write, they can help another 100 people.” For years, I have offered an olive branch in peace and global friendship, sharing my English knowledge without limitation. This has nothing to do with nationality, religion, or politics.

I have mentored some brilliant minds eager to advance their English—from high school teachers to university lecturers. One student I mentored on an overseas scholarship in Malaysia, whom I nicknamed “Barji” due to his heavy accent, exemplifies the importance of education as a way out.

Children’s Education

A Student’s Determination

Every child has the right to an education. I tutored Eisa’s four children while living on my little olive finca in Catalonia, even though he was a high school teacher himself. I would sit for hours and write, inspired by the view of olive branches outside my study window. I even sent my children’s books, the first in the “Chimona Chronicles” series, to Eisa’s children in Gaza through a university colleague. Today, Eisa’s family is safe in Kuwait, and he continues to teach English, often telling me how his students ask for more contact with me.

One young student, Mohammed, gave up his summer holidays to study English with me. When his father passed away during an attack, Mohammed was frightened but stayed connected with me through WhatsApp. We talked for hours while he was under attack. Today, he is a medical student at the University of Cairo, driven by the belief that education is the way to support his family.

A Jordanian Friend

A lady friend in Jordan, a former refugee, reached out to resume her English studies. She can never return home, but education provides a semblance towards stability and hope.

The Power of Offering an Olive Branch

Offering an olive branch, especially during trauma, is more poignant than ever. Dr. Gabor Maté, a psychologist featured in the film’s trailer, states, “There is no post-traumatic stress disorder here because the trauma is never post.”

Meaning and Origin of the Idiom

  • To offer an olive branch means to wish for peace or goodwill. This idiom has biblical origins from Genesis 8:11, where a dove brought an olive branch to Noah’s Ark, indicating the Great Flood was receding and God was showing mercy.
  • In ancient Greek mythology, Athene gifted the city of Athens with an olive branch, symbolizing peace and prosperity. Brides in ancient Greece wore olive garlands, and olive crowns were given as civic honours and prizes in the Olympic Games.


The narrator in the film preview mentioned, “She could not leave it alone! She could not unsee it.” Her bravery in visiting or living there has inspired a brilliant script for “Where Olive Trees Weep.” This film title, rooted in the words of Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, has revitalized the ancient idiom “to offer an olive branch,” making it even more meaningful and impactful in today’s world.

Olive tree ESP middle east

As ESL teachers, extending an olive branch through education can transform lives. Whether tutoring students in refugee camps or mentoring scholars, our efforts help build a more peaceful and educated world.

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*Note: ESL = English as a Second Language

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(C) Copyright 2024 Rosie Reay