Monday, 20 December 2010

Tiyul to Eilat and first full week of volunteering

Last week was pretty much a rather pointless trip to Eilat involving minimal hiking and lots of 'bonding time' with a bunch of eighty, fourteen year-old Israelis from the local youth club in Karmiel. As the places we went were vastly identical to places I visited when living on kibbutz I won't bore you with the repeated details. The first night in the bedwin tent was a slight nightmare (picture being trampled on repeatedly and having loud voices shouted in your ear and things thrown at you when trying to sleep) but the latter few nights when we were camping were a lot more enjoyable and we began to make friends with some of the kids. One of them taught Kyla and I a song 'Yonatan hakatan'

I spent Thursday evening, Friday and Saturday in the Etgar flat with the shvil-niks in Jerusalem and then spent most of Sunday attempting to get home in the biggest storm and worst rain Israel has ever had. That set the tone for the next two days were we spent most of the time getting soaked and trying to avoid the rain.

On Tuesday morning we went to Jerusalem with the Olim Hadashim, the 'new immigrants'. They are the bunch of Russian teenagers we met before who made Aliyah two months ago. The morning was spent in a tour around the Kineset which was actually really interesting as I’ve never been there. After lunch we went to watch the ceremony where all 80 of them received their I.D cards and officially became Israeli citizens. It was a pretty amazing moment which was an unusual event to experience.

On Wednesday we had a chinuch day on minorities in the Galilee. We spoke to a rather unusual guy who was running a Zionist youth movement in the Arab village. We had lunch at the best humus place in Israel (or so they say) and we spent the afternoon talking to Bedwin teenagers about the differences and similarities in our lives. I also had a lovely surprise visit from dad that evening who came to Karmiel and took me out to dinner for the one night he was here :)

Thursday morning was my first full day of volunteering which pretty much involved spending the morning talking about myself to Israeli 12th graders, fun times. It was actually really nice, I think I’ve chosen the best option for actually making some Israeli friends as we get proper time to sit and chat with the teenagers a similar in age to us. In the afternoon we had ulpan at the central bus station in interesting experience. That evening most of the group left for various weekends so Emily, Kyla, Hannah, Rio and I had a girls night in and made yankakes and chocolate fridge cake for dinner.

That weekend I spent in Pardes Hannah with Ardin and Osnat. It was a lovely peaceful weekend filled with a great deal of home cooked and home baked foods, some cycling and walking on the beach at the kibbutz and a lot of reading in the sun and by the fire. I returned to Karmiel on Saturday evening somewhat rejuvenated and ready for the final (and very jam-packed) week before chofesh.

On Sunday we had a meeting with Galit to discuss the week ahead followed by ulpan, lunch and an afternoon shluf. The afternoon consisted of an intro to our one-to-one tutoring and a meeting with Karmiel's youth. When taking a brief shluf before our weekly asefah that evening I was awoken by a call from Colin. Much to my happiness it was to tell me I had finally received a place on Machon and now know exactly where I will be and what I will be doing from February to June.

Monday morning was another morning of volunteering. After one class however, we were told we could go home as they wanted us to make some recordings for the kids to practice with. As a result of this we had a nice midday break to prepare us for our afternoon tiyul to the druze village...and that's where I am in my day right now

All my love

S x

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Jeep Tiyul in the northern mountains and Keshet Seminar -and a bit in between

On Saturday I went on a day trip with my host family. What I was told would be a five hour hike actually consisted vastly of a Jeep tiyul in the northern mountains. The day began with my host family (the mother, Noy, and the little sister) picking me up and then driving to the grandparents house were we casually all shuffled cars and gained a Jeep. We then drove for a few hours until we pulled over on a mountainside and met up with another family in another Jeep. We then drove to the beginning of our 'hike' which consisted of about half an hour walking up a hill and then the adults casually got out a stove and some freshly baked cake and casually started making coffee on some rocks while the kids (including myself) went to investigate the top of the hill and a large hole in the ground. We then embarked on the off-road Jeep tiyul which to be honest I can't really describe, I will let the photos speak for themselves. The most terrifying element was definitely when Noy's 14 year old brother was quite casually driving the Jeep for a significant period of time. At Lunch time we all stopped and in typical Israeli style out came, and this is no exaggeration, at least 5 tables, 15 chairs, an obscene amount of food and a football. The kids went off to make little fires by lighting the gunpowder collected from the bullets left by the army (sounds slightly dangerous no?) while the adults set out the food for a mountainside lunch. When we got home I went to chill out and shower at their house for the evening as we have rather limited hot water resources.

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On Sunday the only remotely interesting thing that happened was that Sophie and I decided to go to kung fu at the JCC. It was a rather eventful experience consisting of a lot of us falling over our feet and giggling. The instructor was lovely though and it actually was great fun, we may even go back next week.

On Monday morning we visited our morning volunteering options. As myself, Kyla and Ethan are working in a high school separately to the others, we only had a half day because they had some kind of teachers day. Given I was still virus-y I spent most of the rest of the day asleep, but only after a yummy lunch of scrambled eggs and home-made bread by Ethan.

On Tuesday morning we visited the JNF centre on Kibbutz.....where we were told and shown about the way they used to make olive oil. We then made cute little oil lamps out of clay and made herb infused oil perfume/ointments. After wards we went to.....where we actually got to pick the olives off the tree, and make different herb infused pita which was baked and eaten there and then. Later that evening the Shvil-niks and Kibbutzniks arrived in Karmiel and chaos erupted.

On Wednesday, for the first time in 8 years, I ate meat. And promptly threw up. The absolutely ridiculously stupid food people at the youth hostel we are staying at for the Keshet Seminar served all the vegetarians chicken schnitzel and said it was veggie. I have actually never felt so sick and disgusted. Having said that, otherwise the youth hostel is in fact really nice. It is in the town of Shlomi which is near Karmiel in the Galilee. After arrival and introduction we had two lectures in the cross communal school nearby. After dinner we went to a performance 'Why I'm Still Here' by.....which was surprisingly amazing and really enjoyable.

On Thursday we were split into track groups according to options we’d chosen at the previous Keshet Seminar. I was in 'The Human Mosaic of the Galilee' which involved visiting an Arab, Druze and Jewish village near-by. In the Arab village, Madj el Krum, we went to one of the schools there and spoke to a young 22 year-old woman who was an English teacher. Before the discussion started she amazed us all by telling us she was the youngest of seventeen children! Wow and I thought I had a big family. After telling us a little bit about the school she opened the discussion to questions from the group. We talked about the split loyalty of being stuck in the middle of Israel and being fired at by other Arabs, we talked about her desire for basically one secular state, the need for open dialogue between the communities, her claim that Hezbollah were by no means a terrorist organisation and many, many other topics. Although we found difficult a lot of what she said it was amazing to be able to have such an open and honest conversation even about some things we so vastly disagreed with. After the Arab village we went to a Druze village for some lunch and a discussion with some of the teenagers roughly our age. It was fascinating the contrasting nature of the two groups affiliation with Israel. The Druze teenagers happily and proudly called themselves Israeli whereas the woman in the Arab school said that if asked she would either say she was from Palestine or just a 1948 Arab. The Druze boys also happily served in the army. It was also interesting to observe how contained their lives are. They would never consider permanently moving away from the village and if they married a non-Druze person they themselves would still be accepted but their children wouldn't be considered Druze. I also found out things I didn't realise about the Druze religion, such as it being a secret religion that all over the world only the religious and practising Druze know the intricate beliefs and practices. After the Druze village we went to a rather less hopeful- as we saw it- Jewish village. It was a somewhat bizarre place where the idea appeared to be a merging of all sects of Judaism. It was intended to be a place where everyone felt comfortable and was an admirable idea but in practice the synagogue was orthodox and the guy we spoke to who had once been head of the community appeared to basically think the differences between orthodox and reform were irrelevant and was very focused on the whole Jewish community getting on but he seemed to have a very insular view and dismissed the surrounding villages a lot. Whilst on the bus we also saw the huge plume of smoke from the forest fire which was more than a little bit scary.

Friday and Saturday pretty much consisted of chilling at the house with all the Shvil-niks and Kibbutz-niks and watching for updates on the fire. We were meant to be going to a club on Friday night but obviously every single club in the north of Israel was closed due to fires so the 33 of us were in a bit of a pickle. Also discovered an epic falafel place on Saturday. We also cleaned the entire house from top to bottom and I CLEANED A TOILET and a bath....totally truthfully-it was disgusting!

That is all for to pack for our epic Tiyul in the south this week and will be in Jerusalem for the weekend so won't update for a while

Happy Chanukah all

S x

p.s we made latkes and had a chanukah party this evening