Well, most of this post isn’t going to be too exciting for most of you, so I’m going to start with the coolest part of my past week and hopefully convince you to read on.
Last Sunday I got to hear Benjamin Netanyahu speak. There was a giant opening event for all Masa participants in Jerusalem. Because of the guest speaker we had to leave about 5 hours before the ceremony was even set to begin. Once inside we got to walk around the convention center a little. Soon enough we saw the hot dog stands. I think some of the people on my program (including myself) were just as excited at the thought of eating a hotdog as we were about getting to hear Bibi speak. The event was really cool, full of special performances like fire jugglers, dancers, and an interesting animated host. I don’t mean animated like he was super funny and outgoing, I mean literally a giant, red headed cartoon, host that told us to chant in Hebrew and stomp our feet. At that point in got a little strange.
But that was over soon enough, and the guest speaker came out. It was one of those “wow” moments. The Israeli Prime Minister, the guy who is always all over the T.V. and the internet, was standing there, may 30 feet away from me, talking to a room full of 5,000 other Masa participants like myself. I know what I am doing here is important, teaching the English language to Israeli students, but realizing that Bibi took the time out of his obviously busy schedule, to come and give us a 10 minute speech really hit me. It was an interesting speech, him applauding us for our efforts here. And there were definitely a few hints at us staying in Israel and making Aliyah. After Bibi left the stage, there was a musical guest. I think it was supposed to be a surprise but almost everyone on my program knew that Idan Raichel was going to perform. I had never heard any of his music and I obviously couldn’t understand any of it with my poor knowledge of the Hebrew language. But I sat there and appreciated it. I have never been a fan of concerts so while many got up and danced, I sat in one of the rows with my peers who preferred to listen rather than sway and dance to the music. Around eleven, the performance ended and we boarded the bus and went home. Getting up for school the next morning was not easy.
School was great this week. As always the students were very excited to see Amanda and me. One of the fifth grade classes, that happens to be our favorite because it is full of the most adorable students ever, was working on an English project. They had to create a poster that explained in English what their favorite things were. We gave them set categories: favorite color, favorite, book, favorite food, favorite video game, etc. The students either had to create a chart in which they wrote down their favorite things in comparison to a friend’s or a family member’s; or they just had to create a poster about themselves that listed what they liked. Most of the advanced students did the comparison option, while the weaker ones worked on the latter. Whichever way the students chose to create their poster was fine, we just wanted them to utilize whatever English knowledge they had.
I paired up with two boys in the class to help them with their posters. Both were fairly weak so the class consisted of them drawing pictures of things they liked (most popular were TV, iPhone, xBox, and soccer). I would then help them spell the sentences, “I like…” I was cool because towards the end of the period the boys stopped looking at the board to see how to spell “I like” and instead could do it from memory. Even though it’s a simple sentence I took it as a victory. After everyone was done making their posters it was time for the presentations. One of the boys I worked with is extremely shy, so he went out into the hallway to practice reading the English sentences he wrote. I could tell he was very nervous when it was his time to stand in front of the class, as he barely knows the ABCs. But he read all of his favorite things perfectly and I could tell he was proud of himself, as was I. I took pictures of the students during their presentations to send to my teacher as her phone was dead. I wish I could show some of them to you, but unfortunately that is forbidden.
The rest of the week was filled with the usual actives: ulpan, grocery shopping, and the occasional run when I could drag myself out of bed. My apartment did start a new weekly tradition though. Every Monday we have “family dinner” during which we all sit down and eat together. The best part about it though is that I don’t have to cook at all. One of my roommates is a really good cook and likes to cook for a lot of people. So each week we give her 10 shekels each and she whips up a fabulous meal. Mondays are slowly becoming my favorite day of the week. Two weeks ago we had homemade schnitzel with french fries and sweet potato fries. Last week was Taco night which was pretty exciting. And there are rumors that this week will be eggplant parmesan. I am very excited.
Ulpan has slowly been getting better but I still don’t think I am learning as much as I can. I bought a Hebrew book this past weekend in Tel Aviv so I can try to teach myself some stuff on my own. And I am going to get my boyfriend to actually teach me stuff since I seem him every weekend. We are supposedly getting books for our Ulpan class that should make the learning more structured, but since we should have gotten them soon after Sukkot I am starting to feel doubtful.
Some other exciting things that happened this past week:
1.) I found out that I will be going home for two weeks over Passover from end of March to beginning of April and I am very excited about it. I am not sure what the first thing I want to do, or the first food I want to eat, but I am sure that my two weeks will consist of a lot of visits to New York City, hanging out with my family, and most importantly lounging with my English bulldog Bubba.
2.) I finished and sent off my application for graduate school. I applied for a Master’s degree in Political Science and Political Communication from Tel Aviv University. I should find out within a few months whether or not I got in. I wanted to apply to the earliest deadline because it is hard to think about actually staying here for another year if I don’t even know if it is possible. So once (or if) I get accepted, I can do more thinking.
3.) It has rained so much here. Whoever said that Israel was a dry country is wrong because there have been three times now that I have gotten caught in a downpour and my clothes have gotten completely soaked through in a matter of seconds. Oh and the last storm broke my umbrella because it was so windy.
4.) Doughnuts. Every bakery sells theses amazing jelly filled doughnuts. I guess its a winter thing here.
5.) I totally forgot to mention that it was Halloween also. I guess that proves just how little Halloween matters in Israel. Two of my roommates and I went dressed as Rock, Paper, Scissors but with an added twist. I was Promiscuous Paper, then were was Sexy Scissors and Raunchy rock. We pretty much just wore normal clothes with a little bit of a twist and wore a paper cut out of our objects on top. My other roommate was a cat. We’re a pretty creative bunch. Anyway, there was a big Halloween party at one of the apartments in Rishon and pretty much everyone from the program was there. It was fun just to hang out with everyone and celebrate something that reminded us all of home. I did miss the trick or treating though.