Saturday, July 31, 2010

Final Entry

At the end of our trip, the crew reassembled and traveled to Jordan. It was a wonderful and relaxing way to wind down after the two month seminar and internship. The first night we stayed at the coolest resort Marriott I had ever seen before and were able to watch the sunset over the Dead Sea. Then we traveled to Petra and saw the once-lost ancient Bedouin city. The highlight for me was seeing the "Treasury" where part of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was filmed. I mean, to think that we were walking in the very same path that Harrison Ford once traversed. It was profound. And then, our last day was spent in Wadi Rum. An expansive and beautiful part of Jordan that once was home to Laurence of Arabia and his magical band of misfits. After Wadi Rum, we spent one final night together and said our goodbyes as people parted ways. It was a fantastic experience

Thursday, July 22, 2010

American Consulate

Yesterday, Jenna and I went to the American Consulate in Jerusalem to give a briefing of our report on home demolitions to State Department Officials. The briefing went very well, the State Department was receptive, and our report is being passed on to the Middle East desk in D.C. It was an incredible experience, but unfortunately, no cameras were allowed inside. Therefore, I was unable to take any pictures of the crown jewel of my professional career. So instead, I decided to post a picture of my family's adorable collies. The sable one is "Toby", and the white one is "Scotti". You're welcome.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


As our time here comes to a close, one cannot help but reflect on the past couple of months. We have learned a lot, too much to list. Among theses things though, Derek has learned to be quite the proficient child care expert.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Saying Goodbye

I have been trying to figure out how to say thank
you to my host family for such an amazing summer. I have really felt like a part of the family, I even got the chance to see what it was like to have younger brothers and not just a younger sister. They have always invited to go places and see the sites, made sure I was doing ok and just took good care of me in general. I never had a problem going upstairs to just sit and talk or watch a movie with them. The children in the family were a lot of fun. All of us were in the same age range and it was like having a huge family for once. My host dad kept telling me I was his favorite because I spent time with the family and would rather stay home with them then go out and party all the time. He said he would miss me very much and would be sad on Friday when he had to drive me to the bus. I know I will be sad too because I have connected with these people. Having a host family is almost always one of the best parts of studying abroad because of home cooked meals, language practice and a family environment.

The other day my host mom got to meet my mom and sister through skype. It was so awesome to see them meeting each other for the first time through a web cam in different parts of the world. I had of course told both of them great things about the other. Both of my host parents have invited me to come back and to bring my family to Nazareth to visit them. I keep thinking how cool that would be to have them meet? I feel very lucky to have my amazing family back home in the states and now host family in Israel, Spain and Egypt. Now I will have someone to call my family always near wherever I am for my future job.

I have gotten really close with one of my host sisters in particular. We have really similar personalities and she appreciates who I am. We have great talks about politics, boys and everything in between. Sadly, I haven´t been able to see her as much these last few weeks, but I hope to see her again before I leave. I´ve already asked to be invited to
her wedding in the future (another reason to come back and visit!) and invited her to come visit me when she comes to the states next year.

The time has really flown by this summer and I feel like I need more time here. I´ve lived abroad for a year in Spain and 6 months in Egypt; these 2 months in Israel have been like a weekend vacation to me. I feel very fortunate to have had this experience both academically and personally. I have made so many memories with the people I have met and learned so much about the people, the place and the conflict. I know that the things I have learned will be a huge benefit to my studies, but they will also benefit me as a person. My worldview has changed and my appetite for travel and languages and new cultures has only grown this summer. Now… where to next?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Weekend Trip

Over the weekend, we took our last trip together as a group while we are in Palestine/Israel. We went up north to see an old crusader citadel in Akko. It was extremely well preserved and a really cool insight into crusader times. Then, it was on to a campsite on the Mediterranean where we got to swim, watch a beautiful sunset, enjoy a great BBQ, and of course, light stuff on fire. It was very relaxing and enjoyable. The next day we toured the Golan Heights and saw a vineyard. I don't particularly like wine, but it was cool to learn about the wine-making process, sample some of the various kinds, and eat some great food along with it. While the experience was rather expensive, it was a wonderful reunion of the group and a relaxing way to spend our last before we reconvene in Tel Aviv to wrap things up.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Ramallah and the market in Jerusalem

Last weekend, I went back to Ramallah for the second time. I stayed with the same people, who are family of one of the other students, Nijim. I had so much fun the first time and Nijim´s cousin Kefah and her two kids were so nice and welcoming. We of course, we greeted with the offer of food, Kefah even offered to cook a whole dinner for us, but we had already eaten. Instead we sat in the living room and talked, drank tea and coffee and had some cake. It was very relaxing and good Arabic practice for me. Kefah and I would teach each other words, sort of a mini language exchange. I played games with the two kids also; we taught them how to play monkey in the middle with balloons.
Friday we relaxed and slept in and had an amazing breakfast. Then I played some more games with the two kids and braided the little girls´ hair. It was kind of like being a summer camp counselor again. In the afternoon we walked around a bit and went to a restaurant to hang out and everybody else got some nargila. We didn’t do much that night, but it was a nice relaxing time in Ramallah.
On Saturday, we left in the afternoon for Jerusalem to hang out and wait for the buses to start running after Shabbat ended. Hali and I decided to walk around the market in the Old City and do some shopping. We both got some cool t-shirts; I got a teeny tiny one for my little nephew. There was a ton of stuff in the market from food to kitchenware to jewelry. I always people watch when I got to a place like this and the market is an excellent place for that. We ended up having to take two different sheruts to get home to Nazareth, but we made it home in time to finish the game between Uruguay and Germany.

Monday, July 12, 2010


For our last free weekend during the program, I opted to visit Ramallah again and while I was there, we visited Yasser Arafat's tomb. This was a stop that we were supposed to make during the seminar, but missed the opportunity when our itinerary changed as a result of the freedom flotilla incident. A friend of mine who I work with came with me and fortunately, he reads Arabic and was able to interpret the inscriptions for me. His translations really made the experience more enjoyable, since the soldiers standing stoically were not very helpful. Although they were good sports about us posing for pictures with us.

After Arafat's tomb, we walked around the city a bit, visited the Ramallah girls, and watched the "toilet bowl" World Cup match. The match was fun, the company was great, seeing the girls again was fun and sleeping outside of the refugee camp was priceless. All in all, a great way to spend my last free weekend!