The Final Countdown

So begins my last few weeks in Israel. I haven’t really gotten emotional yet, probably because it hasn’t really set in yet that I’m leaving.

I think part of the reason why I’m not as sad as some of the other people on my program is because I’m coming back next year. Even if I haven’t tried all the restaurants in Tel Aviv I’ve wanted to or haven’t gone to visit certain sites around the country, I’m not that worried telling myself that I have next year.

As most people are trying to check things off their Israeli bucket list, I’m trying to figure out how to store stuff for three months over the summer. I don’t think it’s safe to leave clothes in suitcases for three months, won’t they get mildewy or moldy?

What did finally hit me today though was how different next year will be. I’ve gotten so used to living and working with people on my program, I haven’t really had to worry about making friends. There’s always someone around to go to the grocery store, the movies with, or shopping with (even though we can’t afford it).

Next year will be totally different. None of the people I met this year will be around, well maybe a select two or three that are staying for another year like me. Some of them live in Australia and South Africa, making me wonder if I’ll even see them ever again. Even the ones that live in America will be halfway across the world once I’m back in Israel. I’ve spent one of the most memorable years of my life with these people whom I might never see again and that’s just…weird.

I don’t know when I’ll get emotional about the end of the program. Maybe it’ll happen when I pack my suitcase, or when I’m on the plane. Maybe it won’t even happen until I’m back next year and have to start all over again making friends.

School has been winding down. The kids are crazy because it’s the end of the year. Most of our days have been filled with rehearsing for the final ceremony and playing go fish. A game I will never be able to play ever again after this year.

I’ll miss the kids but probably not school itself. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed my time working with these kids. Not only did I teach them English, but they also taught me things about myself. I’ve learned to be more laid back, as no matter how hard you plan things with the students, nothing will actually get done until the last minute. But I’ve also learned to be more optimistic. Because even though all that stuff is done the day before or day of, if somehow always turns out great. These kids really know how to pull through.

I’m not sure if teaching is in my future. For my brother, this program taught him he never wanted to teach again. I on the other hand am still undecided. I had my good days and my bad days. But nothing beats when the kids come up to me to show me their end dress or smile at our matching “friendship” bracelets. And it’s even better when after hours of explanation, they finally understand what I’m teaching them: the figurative light bulb going off.

Tonight we had our closing ceremony for the program. I was extremely nervous about it because my students had to perform a song. Every year my school does a performance at this ceremony, so this year Amanda and I decided to teach them Shiny Happy People. They didn’t like the song at first, saying it was “ugly” and they wanted to sing Rihanna. But in the end it turned out great. They even memorized the words which was an added bonus. There was some breakdancing and silly dancing at the end. I was proud!

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The group!

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Student selfies!

A week from today is my last day in school. We’ll see if the finality of everything has hit me by then!

Protests and Language Barriers

On Thursday night my teacher took Amanda and I out to dinner. One other teacher came with us. It happened to be her birthday so it was a reason to celebrate. We went to Giraffe one of my favorite, if not the favorite, restaurants in Israel. It’s a Chinese place that specializes in various noodle dishes. It’s a chain so they have them all over Israel.

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The amazing dessert I did manage to photograph.

We decided to split three different dishes. I was so hungry and excited that I forgot to take pictures of the meal. However, something very interested happened as we started to eat.  A  protested formed outside the restaurant. It was a silent protest and didn’t target Giraffe specifically. Rather, it was a protest against anyone who ate meat.

It was really awkward because the protesters were holding all these signs in Hebrew. I couldn’t read them but my teacher told me they said various things about animals being our friends and we shouldn’t eat them, or that if all slaughter houses had glass walls everyone would be a vegetarian. It got really weird when the protestors came right up to the window and placed the signs right on the glass. I was sitting right next to the window so I felt really awkward as I placed my fork full of chicken pad thai to my mouth.

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They even held their signs through the window of the restaurant, coming inside. The waiters started to pull down the shades, covering the windows. But of course I sat next to the one set of windows that wasn’t equipped with blinds. Soon enough my window was full even more signs as the protestors flocked to the one open space. Eventually the had enough of Giraffe and moved onto another restaurant right next door.

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Besides my interesting encounter at dinner of Thursday night, I experienced two instances this weekend that involved the language barrier and were really frustrating.

I had to buy some allergy medicine Thursday afternoon, I’ve had the sniffles the past few days most likely due to all the dust in my room. I went to SuperPharm, the CVS of Israel and walked to the Pharmacy. The ticket dispenser was broken (sort of like how you form a line at the deli counter in the supermarket, but for the pharmacy). But, I saw multiple people with tickets. I was so confused and was not sure what to do. After aimlessly walking around the store for 10 minutes, I saw an employee handing out tickets near another entrance. I had a picture of the medicine I needed on my phone, so I went up to her and asked in Hebrew where it was. She responded that it was in the pharmacy. I asked her if I could have a ticket, but she said I didn’t need one. But it’s in the pharmacy I reminded her. She knew, but I still didn’t need a ticket. This went back and forth in my broken Hebrew for a while, until I pleaded with her just to come and show me. She said no, and just gave me a ticket. I waited in line for about 20 minutes until I was helped and successfully given a ticket.

If I had been able to speak Hebrew better I am sure that the whole confusion and frustration would have been avoided.

Later that day the language barrier got the best of me again. It was actually the same night as my dinner with my teacher. I made the reservation for 8 and got there on time. Amanda was waiting for my teacher to pick her up, but had not heard from her yet. Since the restaurant was in a mall I decided I would tell the hostess that I was there (the reservation was under my name), but that I was going to wait outside or walk around until the rest of my party arrived. She didn’t speak any English, and my attempts to use basic sentences and even Google Translate did not work. She had no idea what I was trying to say. So I just accepted my defeat and sat down at the table alone to wait for everyone else. It didn’t help that my phone had died and it took everyone else thirty minutes to get there because of an accident. I was not pleased.

The rest of the weekend was very relaxing. I spend the weekend at my boyfriend’s house, watching movies and baking cookies. Can’t get much better than that, right?

I go home on Friday for about two and a half weeks and I cannot wait!! Counting down the days.

I survived birthright day.

Today, Amanda and I hosted 40 Americans on a birthright trip at our school. The point of this visit is for the Americans to see an Israeli school while interacting with the students. The students in part get to practice their English and just have a fun day. Also it’s awesome promotion for the ITF program.

We knew that the day was very important so Amanda and I started planning weeks ago, making a schedule that detailed practically every minute of the day. But, since we are living in Israel we knew that many things would have to be done last minute.

I was so nervous going into the day. Although we had a solid plan, there was just so much that could go wrong. I wondered if the kids would behave well, if the birthrighters would be interested in our activities, and if all the supplies we needed would be there for us.

The day was to start with an opening ceremony at 9am. The birthright group called at 9am and said they were five minutes away. So we sent the students to the gym to get seated and relaxed before the Americans got there. Twenty minutes later there was still not birthright bus in sight. I started to panic, knowing that the kids sitting already for twenty minutes would not be able to handle much more. Right when I thought I was going to have a breakdown, the birthrighters arrived.

I ushered them quickly into the gym and the ceremony began. First our vice principal and teach made a welcome speech. Then some of the 6th grade girls did a dance and it was amazing. Literally, I couldn’t wipe the smile off of my face once the dance started, because a huge sigh of relief came over me. The day had started and it would all be ok.

After the dance, 4 of the sixth grade students made speeches about English class at the school, the history of the school (Haviv is the first Hebrew school in the whole world. Meaning, it was the first school to teach all subjects in Hebrew), and just about general life in Israel. My favorite quote from the speeches : “All Israelis want to live in America and speak English.”

After the speeches everyone stood and we sung the Hativka (the national anthem.) The students then had a 15 minute break to eat quickly and run around to let out some energy. We split the birthright group into 6 groups based on color. We had already split our students earlier in the day.

At 10:10 the rotations began. The six groups rotated throughout the school visiting different classrooms with different activities. There was a craft, a mad lib station, word dominos, a dance, basketball, and a soccer relay. The kids went around with the Americans.

The day was a complete success. The kids had an amazing time and most of them got to practice their English with the Americans. Some of the less confident ones even gained some confidence just from playing on a team with the birthrighters. I think our visitors had an amazing time as well. Some of them were interested in learning more about the program, hoping to apply maybe.

I wish I could upload some photos of the kids, I took plenty of selfies today. They were so happy and just really having fun while doing everything in English! However, I’m not really sure what the rules are with that so I’m going to stay clear. But we did get a nice group shot at the end with all the birthright participants.

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So now the most stressful school day of the year has passed. After weeks of build up and anticipation it’s over and it went so well I wish I could do it…well almost.

Also, quick side note from the weekend. Kayleigh, Amanda, and I went to a chocolate festival in Tel Aviv and it was the best thing ever. Just chocolate everywhere, even a bathtub full of chocolate. YUM!

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the israeli postal system just took 10 years off my life.

ksajsfhkjadfhksjdfhjasfhskfhskjf. I’ve been having a very frustrating past couple of days and its only because of things that would happen because I am in Israel.

I ordered a few books from the Book Depository almost a month ago. I waited and waited. Checking my mailbox everyday after school hopeful for the prized package slip. But no package slips. No packages stuffed into my mailbox. I thought it was taking a little too long. Mona had order books from the same company the month before and got her books within two weeks, something that the company promises even for international shipping.

Another week passed and still nothing. Until the other night, on Saturday when I got a text from Lauren who lives in the apartment upstairs. Apparently one of our neighbors had one of my packages (the books were coming in three separate shipments). He had been at the post office earlier and they had given him my package because we live in the same building. I was dumbfounded. That couldn’t be right. How is it okay that some man I don’t even know, and clearly doesn’t know me since he gave my package to the wrong apartment full of Americans, get my package. And even worse, where are my other two???

There were many things wrong with this situation:

1. The post office is supposed to check IDs before giving out packages, so why did they give mine to my neighbor?

2. It’s illegal in Israel, as in many other countries, to give random people someone else’s mail. But I guess that’s a loose guideline in Israel.

3. He didn’t even bring the package to the right apartment. It says Molly Winik, Apartment 9 in pretty big letters, not apartment 10 where he brought it. Maybe he just couldn’t be bothered with walking down the stairs?

4. I never got a package slip from the post office. Usually if mail doesn’t fit in the mailbox we get a slip and have to bring it with our passports to the post office. Once they match the slip to package and check your passport, you are free to go.

5. It said that I had received notice for the package on January 27. (a) As mentioned above I never got said notice. (b). If the package came on January 27, my other two packages shipped only one day apart must be in the country already. So where the hell are they? Or more realistically who did the post office give them to?

So I went to the post office today to try and deal with the situation. Here’s an account of what happened in list form:

1. Walked in, of course the person who is in charge of delivering packages to customers isn’t there. Wait for her. She finally comes.

2. She tells me there is no way to find out if my packages have arrived. They don’t organize packages my address or name because well that would make too much sense.

3. She notices my defeated face and invites me into the back of the post office to look through all the packages and see if mine is there. I look for thirty minutes and discover that Mona got a package, but not me.

4. I tell her that my neighbor was given my package and it’s illegal. She tells me I should go to the other post office a 15 minute walk away and file a complaint.

5. Great, thanks. But still where are my other two packages. Her response: no idea.

6. I go to the other post office and find the manager. He is a really nice guy. I tell him what happened with my package being given to my neighbor. He’s sorry and tells me to follow him.

7. We go to the back room where all the sorting happens. I am introduced to my mailman. Actually it’s a mail lady. She’s the one who delivers all of our mail.

8. The manager tells her that I never received a package slip and thus my package was released to a stranger. She apologizes. So much for it being illegal, seems like her and the manager were laughing about the situation. I guess that’s what filing a complaint is in Israel.

9. She tells me that she’ll remember my name and where I live and will take care of my mail from now on.

10. Great. BUT WHERE ARE MY OTHER TWO PACKAGES. They don’t know.

11. I leave, having basically accomplished nothing.

So needless to say I am very frustrated today. I know they are just books, things that are easily replaceable. But I shouldn’t have to worry about getting mail and wondering where it goes or where it ends up with. I think the most aggravating thing about it is that there’s nothing I can do. These books could be on the coffee table of a random family that lives in my apartment building and I’d have no idea. They could have fallen behind some shelf in the post office and no one would know the difference.

The silver lining, I got one of my books even though it went from the post office to a random neighbor to the wrong apartment full of Americans in my building. I’m hoping that tomorrow after all this hassle and worrying they’ll be in my mailbox tomorrow. But I don’t want to get my hopes too high. Because when it comes to the Israeli postal system, it’s all luck.

The Apocalypse Came to Israel

Today was the start of the apocalypse. Well actually it was just a really bad storm throughout Israel, but you would think the country has never seem rain or snow before. As my brother put it, “isn’t it weird to live in a country where rockets are no big deal, but snow is the end of the world.” Yesterday everyone on my program was warned by teachers, friends, and Facebook that we should brace ourselves for the weather starting today. I was admittedly a little nervous. It is REALLY cold here. And I knew that a bad storm would equal power outage which would equal no heat. I know what everyone at home is thinking, its still in the 40s/50s in Israel what am I complaining about. Well let me just say that at least you guys have insulation in your homes and first world heating, not an air conditioner that changes to a heater and seems to go on and off at its own whim. Again quoting my brother who can actually speak from experience “I’d rather be in 20 degrees in D.C. then in 40 degrees in Israel.”

It’s a different kind of cold, one that I’ve never experienced in my whole life. It’s like cold down to my bone. Also it doesn’t help that my apartment is always at least thirty degrees colder than it is outside. As I said the lack of insulation is a problem. I guess builders here figure because it’s so hot in Israel for about 9 months of the year, who cares about the other three, people can suffer for a while. Besides our apartment just being cement walls, there are holes in between the windows that allow cold air to blow in. In fact as I am sitting here writing this post I can feel a breeze coming in from outside. Also the windows in our bathroom are just shutters, no like actual glass or anything to close. So even though the shutters are closed, there is still air coming in. Cozy right!

Anyway, the storm started today with some nice dust blowing everywhere. Even though Rishon is a fairly big and bustling city, it is still in the middle of the desert, and when the wind starts blowing so does the dust. I think I had about three pounds of dust in my lungs after walking home yesterday. I’m not exaggerating though, the weather forecast on my phone actually said dust. Around ten today the rain started and the students went crazy at my school. It’s like they had never seen rain before. There also was a leak in the ceiling in the hallway at the school who subsequently led to part of the ceiling falling. It wasn’t a huge whole, but there was literally a steady stream of water pooling onto the floor before the ceiling finally caved in. After the rain came the hail, giant hail balls that my students rain outside and collected, putting them into their water bottles in the hopes of saving them. Luckily our teacher gave Amanda and me a ride home so we didn’t have to walk thirty minutes in the storm. I’ve seen some pretty crazy pictures and videos from throughout Israel today. One (shown below) shoes a giant sign that fell in the middle of the street, in Netanya I think. I also saw a video of some women walking across the street in Ramat Gan and literally getting blown away. It also snowed in Jerusalem which means that the whole city basically shut down and school was cancelled. I’ve had my phone charging the whole day i case our power goes out, and based on the sound of the wind outside right now that could be any minute.

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DUST

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That’s a giant sign in the middle of the road.

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Ceiling tile gone.

Now for some news from school this week. Last Wednesday I spent two whole periods working with a new student in the school. He just moved to Israel from the Ukraine, so he speaks Russian, some Hebrew, and pretty good English. His mom had told us that he was a strong English student and she wanted him to take the test the other students had taken the month earlier to catch up. So, I started to work with Yan to see how much he actually knew. A lot of times so far this year, a parent has said his or her student is really strong; not to say they aren’t smart, but they usually don’t know the written rules or exact meanings of the words. After working with Yan for a little I realized that he did in fact know English really well, but needed to practice and study the rules and exceptions a little more. So after doing a review sheet with him, I wrote a detailed list of what to study for the test and when the test would be so he would have plenty of time to prepare. When I walked into school Monday morning, first period (the time of the test), he was waiting at the door for me, with a pencil in hand ready. I nervously graded the test once he finished, probably more nervous than him because I wanted him to do well…..And…. he got a 95! He smiled, we high-fived, and he headed back to class, definitely more confident then before. Even today when I took him to my classroom with a few other students, he was more engaged and seemed to be enjoying himself a lot more. I got to meet his dad today and show him Yan’s test of the score and he was so impressed, even shocked as he said he couldn’t believe it.

Also when Amanda and I walked into our room this morning we found this note for us on our desk from one of our students, sort of made my day.

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Family dinner this week was empanadas, which were obviously amazing. Oh and tonight Mona made butter less chocolate chip cookies which were so cold and definitely made the freezing and scary storm seem better.

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Empanadas

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Coooooooookies

That’s all for now, stay warm everyone at home! I’ll try to do the same here.

Testing in School, A Trip Up North, and Preparing for Paris! Another couple of weeks here.

Sorry I haven’t gotten a chance to write sooner. I usually write my new posts on Tuesday or Wednesdays but this past week my usual time slot was taken up by a different task. I am meeting my mom in Paris this week (in 4 days to be exact); so I put aside my blog time for the week to make an itinerary. I have never been to Paris and my mom said that we can do whatever I want during the trip so I thought it best to have some ideas of what to do and where to go each day. That way we can make the most of our time there.  I’m not going to get into the whole itinerary right now because you will hear about the whole trip in my next post. But I will say we are hitting all the major touristy spots with some necessary stops that remind me of home such as urban outfitters and Starbucks. Both of which don’t exist in Israel. I keep dreaming about all the food I’m going to eat. Macaroons, French onion soup, and crepes are definitely at the top of the list. Counting down the days!!

School this week was pretty quiet compared to the brawl that broke out last week. Both our fifth and sixth grade classes have finished up their units and we are giving tests this week. Hanukkah break starts on Wednesday which means only one more days left of school. It’s the longest stretch of school we’d had so far since the first few months are filled with holiday breaks. I’m excited to just get some time off.

Last week there was more excitement in our apartment. I woke up Thursday to a bunch of frantic texts from my roommates. Apparently a pipe burst and water was leaking into or neighbors apartment coming down from the ceiling and into both her bathrooms and kitchen. She came upstairs at 7am and knocked on our door. My roommate Kayleigh answered and was dragged downstairs to our neighbors apartment. She showed her the damage. Since I get a late start on Thursdays, I waited around for our landlord. I showed him that there was some water in the hallway in front of our door, seemingly coming from the marble wall. And then I took him downstairs. My neighbor was very happy as her own landlord hadn’t come yet. She was really friendly and invited me inside and offered me some tea. I noticed that her apartment was the same exact layout as ours and the tiny room that Iris and I used to share before we moved to a bigger room was being used as a storage closet. Anyway later that day I got home from school and there was a guy ripping off the floor and working on the pipes. He told me that the leak wasn’t from our apartment but the one next door. So yay, we didn’t break anything!

This past Thursday night I went out in Tel Aviv with my friend Diana who lives in Petach Tikvah.  We met at one of my favorite restaurants called Giraffe. It’s an Asian chain restaurant that has really good noodle dishes for pretty cheap. From there we walked to a bar right down Ibn Gabirol. I had been there a couple times with people from birthright. We ordered wine with hot cider which has quickly become my favorite drink. There’s not that much alcohol in it but it’s so yummy and it comes with dried apples in it. Also it was only 15 shekels because of happy hour so it fits my budget. Halfway through our drinks some lady approached our table selling good luck tokens and coins that supposedly would help Diana and I conquer our fears. She gave us a five minute speech about how some class changed her life and it was her goal to sell these coins. She told us she would sell each of us one for only fifty shekels each. My response was pretty much “yeah f***ing right” (trying to keep this as PG rated as possible). I offered her ten shekels for one just to get her away from us. It’s a cool token that says Israel post office on the back in Hebrew. It also says telephone on it so maybe it’s some old pay phone coin. Who knows.

Later that night the waitress brought two shots over to our table and told us they were from these guys at a table nearby. I smelled the shot and discovered it was tequila. This was a wine and cider kind of night, not a tequila shot night. We offered them to the couple at the table next to us, but they too did not seem keen on the shots either. We just kind of put them to the side, trying to avoid awkward eye contact with the 30 year olds who bought them for us. A few minutes later the waitress came back over and told us shyly that the shots actually weren’t meant for us. One of the guy’s wife was sitting at a table next to us and wanted to send shots to her and her friend. The waitress apologized a lot but we told her not to worry that we didn’t even want the shots anyway. The night ended with a bit of indulgence, a waffle ice cream sundae that was so good.

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Apple cider & wine, waffle sundae, tequila shots : sums up our night

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Rabin Square lit up at night.

My boyfriend and I walked around the shuk area this weekend. We bought a lot of candy from the candy stand where you can mix and match different types of jellies. I spent a ridiculous amount of money on the candy but it should last me for a while. We also walked to Neve Tzedek, a really quiet and cute area near the shuk. We found this amazing frozen yogurt place called Anita. I had eaten there with my brother when I visited him last year and it’s my favorite because they put toppings on the bottom, then the yogurt, and then more toppings. We then drove to Jaffa and picked up some Shwarma to eat for lunch. It was actually the first Shwarma that I’ve eaten since I’ve been here. I ate it every day when I was here on birthright but I just hadn’t had it since. It was so yummy I forgot how good it was.

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My frozen yogurt before.

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And after.

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Schwarmaaaaaaaaa

Side note I finished the second book by J.K. Rowling aka Robert Galbraith. It’s called the Silkworm and it was almost as good as the first one. I couldn’t put it down all weekend.

Yesterday was a really long day. We had a twelve hour seminar with our program. It was really interesting despite the fact that I couldn’t keep my eyes open once we arrived home. It started with a 645am departure from Rishon. Then we headed up to Haifa to visit a multicultural center. The center hosts various events that tries to bring Arab Israelis together with Jewish Israelis. We saw an art exhibition that shows art created by members of the center. Then we drove to a Druze village. Druze is a different religion in Israel. It’s pretty cool because the Druze people are totally loyal to the country that they live in. We learned all about the culture and the history behind the religion. The most interesting thing to me was that only the religious Druze can know what’s written in their religious books. They can choose to be secular and religious, but if they choose the secular life then they cannot know what is written in the books. Only the religious members can study and read it. Also the Druze are very similar to the Amish in the sense that if you marry outside of the community you are excommunicated. Then we had an delicious meal prepared by the family who we were talking to.

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Our meal at the Druze village!

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Quick photo I took on the bus of the Christmas tree in Haifa!

After that was our last stop of the day. An Arab high school. We got to hear from an English teacher in the school and then talk to the students. It was very interesting to hear their opinions about different issues on Israeli society. The girl I was talking to said that English was her favorite subject and had actually lived in New York City for a few years when she was little. She also added that “Jewish, Israeli, Arab, Muslim,” she didn’t “really get involved with all of that”. She lived well and that’s all that mattered and she likes everyone no matter what their religion is. Interestingly we had to discuss a time when we felt a little scared, threatened, or out of place. The boy who I was talking to and I both said the same place: Temple Mount. It was for slightly different reasons. Mine being that I was a foreigner there and definitely stuck out like a sore thumb, and his because of all the violence that occurs there. If I don’t feel safe there and neither does he, then who does feel safe there? After the talk we ate some pita the students had prepared for us and went home.

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A hill looking over village of the school we visited.

Also a few weeks ago my brother and I were interviewed for a jewish newspaper from our town and the article came out last week. Read all about the program I’m on and our experiences in Israel! : http://jstandard.com/content/item/masa-ing_english_in_israel/

That’s all for now. My next post will come after my trip to Paris!!!!

Not sure how to title this one…

I’m going to start of this blog post with probably the most interesting and scariest thing that’s happened to me so far in Israel. Have you ever seen the Morgan Freeman movie “Lean On Me”?  Well I felt like I relived a scene that could have been in this movie on Monday at school. It was second period and one of the boys in my class was causing trouble from the beginning. We were still in the main classroom because Amanda and I  hadn’t had the chance to take our students out yet. Before we knew it this boy was charging a girl in the classroom, screaming that he wanted to kill her. We didn’t know what was going on but he was not going to stop until he got to lay his hands on her. My teacher told the students to leave the classroom in the hopes that she could calm the boy down. Unfortunately he stormed out of the classroom and ran over to the girl. Despite everyone trying to shield her from him, he managed to punch her right in the face. She immediately began hysterically crying.

My teacher told me to take the students to the English room to her her away from him. I ushered the girls (it ended up being only 7 girls with me) down the hall and into my classroom. I peered down the hallway to see what was going on and I saw the boy running down the hallway heading towards my classroom. I quickly grabbed the keys and closed the door. Like a scene out of a movie, I was in the middle of locking the door when he tried to open it. Luckily I was quicker than him and I locked the door just in time. He then proceeded to kick and punch the door trying to get in. I heard teachers outside trying to calm him down. Everyone was trying to figure out what was said that made him so angry. Soon enough everything calmed down. The girls were drawing on the white board and the one girl had finally stopped crying. But then the door opened. I looked up and say the boy standing there. My first thought was “oh great he must have come with a teacher to apologize. How else would he have gotten into the locker room.” But I soon  realized I was mistaken when I saw a giant key ring that belonged to the secretary in his hands. Turns out he took the secretary’s keys to break into the room. My heart dropped into my stomach when I realized I was alone in the room. He lunged at the girl. She ran to the corner hysterically crying. I stood in front of her barricading her from the boy as he jumped on the table to try and reach her. Luckily his home room teacher came into the room soon after and pulled him away. Eventually she calmed him down. I think I was in a state of shock after as I had never seen anything like the that before let alone be involved in it. Don’t get me wrong this is not a daily occurrence at my school. And even the teachers who had been at this school for a long time at never seen a fight to this scale. Lucky me, right?

Besides the fight earlier this week, my weekend consisted of recovering from my Thanksgiving meal. I was so full that after dinner when I had to walk quickly about 15 minutes to catch a bus to Tel Aviv, I immediately started cramping. But the food was amazing: stuffing, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, homemade challah, and yummy salad and vegetables. Sadly we had chicken instead of turkey but it did the trick. And for dessert of course pumpkin pie as well as brownies, apple crumble or something like that, cookies, and fruit salad.

Speaking of food. Family dinner resumed this week. Mona made taco salad and it was incredible. It’s always the best part of my day on Mondays. After my longest day at school and an Ulpan class, it gives me something to look forward to. The salad was amazing, my favorite part was this pineapple salsa Mona made.

Speaking again of food. I finally got to try this new wings restaurant in Tel Aviv. It’s pretty new, I think it just opened up this past summer since its a few blocks away from where my brother used to live but he’d never heard of it nor went to it. It’s called Wings and it’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s a restaurant that serves only wings in various different flavors. I went with Ran last Saturday and it was just as amazing as I’d hoped. I had the Texas Buffalo flavor from Mona’s recommendation. Ran had some Asian orange-y flavor which was pretty good. We also split onion rings and French fries. Sadly they were out of the sweet potato fries which were supposedly very good. The wings are almost as good as ones you’d get in the US because the owner is originally from America. I think he moved to Israel a few years ago. The place is really small because I don’t think he realized how popular it would be. Funny thing is everyone in the place was American and speaking English, I felt like I was back in New York not in the middle of Tel Aviv. It was amazing and I can’t wait to go back and try a new flavor.

My sixth graders finally finished their pen pal letters. We put them in the mail today and I don’t know whose more excited for the return letters: me or my students.

Also, I finished my 5th book that I’ve read while I’ve been here and it was definitely my favorite. It was “Cuckoo’s Calling” by Robert Galbraith (which is a psydonym for J.K. Rowling.) It was such a good book and I definitely recommend it for any Harry Potter fans. It’s not for kids so it’s for the generation that grew up reading Harry Potter. It’s a detective novel but nothing really corny or over dramatic. It was so good and it’s the first in a series. I’ve already started the second and I hope there are just has many of these as there were in the Harry Potter series. Some of the other books I’ve read while here were Gone Girl (which I read in 3 days), Lena Dunham’s autobiography, My Promised Land, and The Dove Keeper. I’ll take any reading suggestions!!

Oh and I got a haircut! My first one in Israel. I went to this guy that my roommate went to. Her was super nice and spoke English really well, but I don’t think he totally understood what I meant when I said long layers. He did a great job and I keep getting compliments even though he cut the front of my hair really short. Probably not noticeably to anyone else, but to me it seems really short. Whatever it looks good and it’ll grow out eventually!

That’s all for now!!

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Buffalo Wings!!

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I ate all of the onion rings.

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Our Thanksgiving feast.

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My initial reaction to my haircut.

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But it’s growing one me.

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Family taco salad night!