Posts Tagged ‘impression’

A Walk

I think the first thing I’m going to do when I return to the Middle East will be to walk the entire length of THE Wall.  I will photograph and document it as I go and use this journey as a new start to my new life.

I love walking.  I feel it frees the mind and the heart.  I’m really excited for this enterprise – this freedom that will come in the midst of such oppression and imprisonment.

I hope this journey comes soon!

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Jerusalem Trip on 9/11

The Gang

The Gang

Last weekend one of the other teachers and I took three of our students to Jerusalem.  This is a big deal because they aren’t actually allowed to go into Israel since they are Palestinians, but since they are under 16 it is easier to get them through the check point.  Here is what happened:

My teacher friend – Big Red – met me at the school and we hailed a taxi to go get one student.

Big Red Leading The Way

Big Red Leading The Way

She wasn’t ready – teenage girls!  We waited and she finally came upstairs then it was off to get the other two students in Beit Sahour.  When we finally got back to the first student’s house (her father was driving us to the check point), the taxi driver tried to get 60 shekels from me!  This is because we were speaking English and he thought he could rip us off!  But Super Dad came to the rescue and told the driver you can take 20 shekels or you can take nothing so the driver left with nothing!  It was awesome!

We finally make it to the checkpoint and met back up with Big Red who’d gone ahead of us to scope

Check Point

Check Point

things out.  Things being scoped where … interesting.  You see, it was Ramadan Friday (every three years every Muslim has to go pray at the Dome of the Rock) so it was PACKED!  We finally decided to just push our way through the pack to get to the check point.  The goal was to make the students look very American so Big Red took the passports from everyone (theirs don’t have VISAs) and act like we were clueless to our task.  We told the girls not to speak and to act like they didn’t know Arabic.  This was easier said than done!  Big Red led and I made sure all three girls stayed with him and weren’t touched by the men around us.  Once we made it through the mob we quickly were escorted by soldiers to the “right line for us.”  And very soon we were on Israeli soil.  The girls didn’t even realize we’d made it through.  : )

Once on the other side we had to find a taxi or bus to get us from the check point to our destination … the mall.  We walked and walked and walked and then stopped at a monastery to take pictures thus starting the taking of over 275 photos!  I told the girls, “Go

We Made It!

We Made It!

frolic around those rocks and I’ll take your picture!”  Only one frolicked but we got some great photos of them laughing and playing around.

We quickly got bored of the frolicking so we started walking again and finally flagged a taxi and convinced him to carry all 5 of us.  This was “fine” … until we were stopped by the police.  Oops.  They made Big Red get out and walk the rest of the way – only like 5-10 more minutes.  I took the girls on into the mall once we were dropped off and we met back up with Big Red in the food court.  McDonalds, KFC, Burger King, Pizza Hut.  What “American” food did I want?  Still wish I’d have chosen Burger King!

After lunch we did the mall crawl.  Taking pictures throughout the trek.

One store didn’t like that we were trying on their hats, taking pictures, and singing along with the radio so we soon left there without

Hats!

Hats!

too much trouble.  You know, I didn’t want to have to bust some people up!

After walking for another couple hours, we were presented with our next challenge.  Shabbat.   That is the Jewish Sabbath.  It starts Friday at sunset and ends Saturday at sunset.  The stores were closing at 1 so everyone could get home before Shabbat started.  We also needed to go because the Jewish buses would soon stop and no Arab buses came to where we were.  So we decided to go to the old city next – if nothing else the Muslim quarter would be hopping with all the excess folks in the city to pray.

Big Red and I decided to keep our destination from the girls.  Heeheehee.  That makes anything more fun!  We even convinced one girl that we were going to Tel Aviv!  She was so disappointed when we arrived at the Damascus Gate!  We walked some more.  I do love walking!  We decided to take the kids to the roof of a school we knew where we could see an amazing view of Jerusalem.  On the way we were stopped by something extraordinarily beautiful.

It does exist here!

It does exist here!

Grass.

Lush green grass.  I couldn’t stop myself from running to it and laying face down in it!  It was heaven!  This caused the group to stop and even more pictures were taken.  Gotta love digital cameras.

When we finally left the grass I had to take one last look.  *sigh*

We made it to the school and the roof – but not without a lot of complaining about the walking and the stairs and the lack of information about the destination.  But when we finally got to the roof the girls Hellwere amazed by what they saw.

Big Red started telling them about the area including the Valley of Hinnom, right next to the school ,that used to be Gehenna.  AKA Hell.  So we started calling it hell and taking pictures of it … and ourselves and our shadows and … well you get the picture.  No pun intended.

We left the school then and went down into hell and … took more pictures!  And laughed and laughed and laughed some more.  It was ironic to be laughing so much in … hell.

Laughing in Hell

Laughing in Hell

We then caught a taxi back to the check point since the Arab buses were packed from the folks who were finished praying.  And since it was Ramadan the buses were rapidly diminishing because the drivers wanted to go home to eat!  The taxi again was okay with taking all 5 of us and we made it back to the check point without the interference of the police.

We then walked back to our side of the wall, took pictures of the wall, almost got shot by an Israeli

Graffiti on THE WALL

Graffiti on THE WALL

soldier for taking the wall photos, and finally walked back to the school.  Shortly after arriving, rides came to get kids and I went upstairs to crash.

It was a great day!

School – Week 1

School started on Monday, so we just finished our first week (unofficially).  We have a half day on Saturday but nothing on Friday so the week is really over on Thursdays (we can’t give homework on Saturdays).  For those who don’t know, I teach 6th grade History and Bible, 8th grade Earth Science, 9th grade Physical Science, and 10th grade Biology.  I was a little nervous to teach science, since I didn’t really take a ton of it in college and I was never super excited about it in school.  I like it well enough but it’s no English or History (my two favs).  Anyway, the first week has been WONDERFUL!  Let me tell you all about it.

This was what I wore for the first day of school!

This was what I wore for the first day of school!

I started each of my classes the same on Monday.  “My name is Miss Laura.  Not Miss.  Not Laura.  Miss Laura.  I will not respond to anything else.  Now, clear your desks for a quiz (it was a “tell me about yourself” quiz).”  As soon as the quiz was handed in, I passed out the syllabus and started in on that.  Then if there was time we started the first section in the book or an activity.

My 8th graders are the first period of the day.  Heeheehee.  They looked as though they were going to wet themselves!  But as class progressed I saw their personalities start to come out!  They are a great group of kids.  Most are very inquisitive which is great for a science class.  And smart!  Boy, o boy they keep me on my toes.

My 10th graders are the 3rd period (second period is my prep).  There are only 8 students in the 10th grade and they’ve all been going to school together since 6th grade!  They LOVE to talk in my class and their goal is to get me off topic and not teaching!  What they don’t know is that I only “let them succeed” if I want to … not because they’ve somehow found a way to make me forget I’m supposed to teach them!

My 6th graders are 4th and 6th periods but because of schedule changes this week I haven’t taught them yet.  I’ve met some of them on the playground though and one little girl came up to me after school on Thursday, “Miss … Miss Laura, when are you going to teach our class?”  Smiling I said, “I’ll be there on Saturday!”  She nodded, smiled, and ran off to play!  Cute, cute, cute!

My 9th graders are 5th period.  the first day they acted all indifferent to me.  It was as if they wanted me to know they weren’t going to like me or my class … no matter how hard I tried!  But by the end of the school day they were chatting with me before their rides came.

Every morning I go out to the courtyard to hang out and chat with the students.  Most of the girls will at least come over and say “hello Miss Laura.”  Some actually seek me out for a conversation!  YAY!  We also have one break during the day – like a lunch/recess.  I only have to be out at break on Mondays, but I’ve been out during each one because it’s another chance to get to know these kids and find a way into their worlds!

Teens here are not too different than teens in other parts of the world.  They want to get out of work, they want to be understood, and they want to be cool!  : )  I love teenagers!  They are definitely the most interesting people in the world because that stage in life is so … dynamic!

Since this was our first week of classes we were on half days.  The elementary school used their Monday through Thursday schedule and just cut it short, but the high school used their Saturday schedule (hence the schedule changes that led to no 6th grade classes this week).  But because of this, I got to be outside for the elementary school breaks too!  So fun! Those kids are super cute but mischievous.  They try everything to get under the rules.  One of the other teachers would stand at the door to the school and not let a single kid inside unless they could tell her where they were going.  The kids are only allowed inside during break if they are headed to the bathroom or canteen.

Another plus of the schedule issues: I got to play Save the King (dodgeball) with the 4th graders!  I joined one team and we easily won because I could actually catch the ball when it was thrown!  Then the losing team said I HAD to switch teams for the second game.  So I was the one everyone tried to get out!  It was SO fun!  But the best part was the kids’ reactions to my tattoos.  They just didn’t get it and kept asking why I wear those (pointing to my right arm).  I didn’t really know how to explain tattoos to 9 and 10 year olds so I just said “because I like them.”  This seemed to be enough for them.  But a few would then ask if I could take them off and things like that.  When school ended, one of the little 4th grade boys came up to me and was continuing to ask about my tattoos.  After a minute or two he innocently looks longingly into my eyes and asks “can you get me one?”  I was speechless!  “Ummm… you have to have money,” I said with my arms up.  “I have money, Miss.”  He was excited now!  “Ummm…you have to be 18!”  In my head I’m thinking, this is bad.  This kid is going to go home and ask for tattoos like the cool teacher at school and his parents are going to freak out!  But he had to leave then so the conversation was dropped.

Even my high schoolers ask me about my tattoos.  “Why do you have them?”  “Do they hurt?”  “Do they come off?”  “What are they?”  “What do they say?”  “Let me see it!”  Etc.  It is nice that I don’t have to cover them up for school (unless our superintendent is around).

A few of my students are … inquisitive (a handful!).  They will take a little extra love to get through to but I know that God has me here to be that person for these kids!

Yesterday I had 2 of my 3 high school classes taking quizzes (the 3rd took theirs on Wednesday) and as we graded them I was laughing … hard.  “Miss?”  “Miss who?”  Eye roll, “Miss Laura?”  “Yes?”  “Is planets and stars okay?”  Yes.”  “Miss Laura, is planets and the sun okay?”  “Yes.”  “Miss Laura, is meteors and planets okay?”  “Yes, guys if planets was okay for one of you, it’s going to be okay for all of you!”  Heeheehee.  That is what I deal with!  “Miss?”  “Miss who?”  Eye roll, “Miss Laura … then they ask the same question that the last 5 kids asked!  It cracks me up … hopefully we’ll work on listening skills and get that taken care of by the end of the first 9 weeks.

Well, I think that’s enough for Week 1.   I know my kids will fill more blog posts!  Stay tuned!

Finally Here

So I arrived in Bethlehem on Saturday night.  The flight was … long!  I didn’t sleep much but I did sleep.  Boo.  There were no IMG_3428problems in the airport or anything like that and my bags all showed up!

Jerusalem was beautiful!  I really like the feel of the city.  It’s a place where hard and soft meet.  Stone buildings, friendly people, ancient history, current events, CocaCola, etc.  I even saw a Burger King!

We finally arrived at the school very late on Saturday and I got to see the city from my living room window.  I love the hills and terrain (except when walking them).   I got all unpacked then tried to sleep … that didn’t work too well.

The Bed:  My bed may as well be made of concrete for the amount of give it has!  I sit on it and nothing happens.  I push on it with my hand and my arm moves instead of the bed.  Hard doesn’t do it justice!

Weather:  It reallyIMG_3424 is very similar to Orlando.  I like this because it feels a little more like home.  The difference is there is actually a breeze.  There isn’t rain and it isn’t humid.  There is also a lot more brown – we don’t have grass at all.

People:  I haven’t met many but they all seem extremely friendly.  Interesting thought: In Jerusalem I had two young people (girl and guy) comment that the tattoo on my left arm is bad, but they liked the others…basically tattoos are acceptable, just not cross tattoos (makes sense if you don’t agree with tIMG_3432he whole Jesus thing).  The interesting part is that, in general, Christians dislike tattoos no matter what they are.  Thoughts?!

Prayer Requests:  To continue to acclimate to the area and the people.  To remember names (and pronounce them correctly).  To find a church close to my apartment so I can invest time there.  Finances continue coming in!  That I can quickly learn a few Arabic phrases.  For my students.  My lesson plans.  My expectations.  My sanity.  My loved ones back in the States.  And most importantly, that I can be used by God to reach these people for Him!