Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A Great Time to Dream

January has come (and passed…) and for this month’s bulletin board, Josh and I knew that we needed to include New Year’s Day and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. As a way to make this one cohesive idea, we made the board “dream” themed. We felt as though this tied the idea of New Year’s resolutions and the “I Have a Dream” speech together nicely. We wrote “It’s a Great Time to Dream” in both English and Hebrew, and our question of the month was “What are your dreams?” We ask all of the tough questions.

I felt it was incredibly important to teach the students about MLK, Jr. Aside from the fact that he was a huge mover and shaker in American history, he also advocated love, education, and service which all hold special places in my heart. Josh and I presented the idea of teaching the 5th graders (Kitah Hay) about MLK, Jr. to Rosi and, of course, she was very supportive.

The lesson turned out to be one of the best I’ve ever facilitated. We had the opportunity to teach 2 different 5th grade classes, and both responded really well.

We began the lesson with this video of MLK, Jr.:

For those who can’t/don’t want to watch, it’s a pretty cool video where the King himself (is that an appropriate way to refer to him? Probably not) explains that Israel is “one of the great outpost of democracy in the world.” NO BIG DEAL. 

Next, we played this video for the kids:

Since this video was a bit longer, we stopped after every sentence or so and worked with the kids on translating the words to Hebrew. The students’ main English teacher also helped us with this for both videos. The video’s not perfect and COMPLETELY drops the ball when speaking about MLK’s assassination but it did a good job explaining the history to the students.

Then came the MOST EXCITING PART!!! Caps and lots of exclamation points are necessary because I could geek out over this for hours. We asked the kids to create a dream bubble and gave them this prompt to fill out: “I have a dream that _____.” We really didn’t know what to expect. We unsurprisingly got some silly responses -- like “I won’t be in school” -- but for the most part their answers just reminded me how brilliant children are and how fortunate I am to be working with these little scholars!

Some may have spelling or grammatical errors, but pay attention to the messages behind the words - these were 100% the kids' ideas. I said it once and I'll say it again - kids just understand life so much better than we do.

That's a lot of salsa! (Get it? 'Cause Pace...salsa...)
SO MANY GOALS SO LITTLE TIME... We need more girls to grow up with these dreams!
How we displayed the work of our little scholars
Anyone who knows me knows that I am unapologetically obsessed with motivational quotes. They dominate my phone background, my walls, and my Pinterest boards. Some of my favorite quotes come from MLK, and I’m willing to bet that City Year sparked my fascination with his words. City Year uses MLK, Jr. Day as a “Day on, not off,” and has different service projects running across the country.  I wore my Timberland boots and khakis– which were part of my CY uniform – in solidarity on MLK, Jr. Day here in Israel.

And now, I leave you with some of my favorite MLK, Jr. quotes:

“Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'”

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

"Everybody can be great... because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love."

Hope you’re all inspired. Now go out and change the world or something.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Channukah in Israel and England

Two simple words perfectly describe Channukah in the Holy Land: sufganiyot galore. Seriously. From the shuk to the best bakeries, anywhere and everywhere had an assortment of Channukah donuts. An Israeli told me that she limits herself to one sufganiyah a year since each one clocks in at an average of 600 calories but I think that’s just silly. Why deprive myself of something that reminds us of the miracle of Channukah? I’m happy that some people are able to exercise self control, but as the saying goes -“Treat yo’ self.” And that’s just what I did. Sometimes twice a day. Oops.

While the students had school during the majority of the holiday, my program was kind enough to give us a week off. One of my best friends on the program, Naomi, extended an invitation to go home to Manchester, England with her. While I was tempted to go home for the holiday, I felt silly doing so since I am so close to Europe and I won’t necessarily have the opportunity to travel so freely again.

I chose to join Naomi and visit England for the first time. I definitely made the right decision. I had an incredible time. I would be lying if I said England was at the top of my dream places to travel to – in fact, had you told me in August that I would be going to England, I would probably laugh in your face. But lo and behold, here I am on my return flight back to Israel writing about the “brilliant” time I had in England.

I was fortunate enough to spend 5 days in England. Like any good tourist, I went into the trip with a bucket list, if you will, of what I wanted to do while on the trip.

My List
  1. Go to Starbucks 
  2. Go to Taco Bell
  3. Get personalized Nutella
  4. Have high tea
  5. Have fish & chips
I know, I know – there’s absolutely zero reason as to why I’m not a 500 lb human being. And while the first two tasks are not British AT ALL, I have gone 4 months without both and have missed them every single day. No shame. I also thought it’d be cool to see Big Ben and maybe even the London Eye (more so on a look but don’t touch basis – there are few things I hate more than heights), but they weren’t exactly at the top of my list.

I am happy to say that all missions on my bucket list were ACCOMPLISHED.

Friday, December 19th was my first full day in Manchester. Nay and I spent the day in town, where I was able to get Starbucks and personalized Nutella. We also took some very couple-y holiday photos. Tis the season after all. For Shabbat, her family had about 15 guests over for a traditional Shabbat dinner. Nay and I had a relatively early evening because Saturday morning we had a train to catch to London.

We caught the train at 8 am because we wanted to be able to enjoy a full day in London. We arrived at around 10:30 am. We then took the tube from the train station to Nay’s twin brother’s apartment. Her brother, Toby, was our gracious host for the weekend. We spent 7 hours walking around London. We got to see Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, and other touristy things but most importantly we had fish and chips at an English pub and high tea for an early dinner.

Fun fact – Brits do NOT get their leftovers to go. We had quite a few scones leftover from tea and Nay’s brother was mortified when I considered asking for a “doggy bag.” I decided to spare him the embarrassment and not ask because I am a nice human being.

I really enjoyed walking around London – it was exhausting but definitely worth it. It’s a beautiful city that reminds me so much of New York.

After our long day out, the 3 of us returned to Toby’s apartment to get ready for a night out. I got the opportunity to meet lots of Nay’s friends and we all got to enjoy the London nightlife experience. I was exhausted and probably delirious but I’m pretty sure we all had a lot of fun (even though Toby was horrified that I devoured an unkosher burger at like 2 am).

On Sunday morning we enjoyed a traditional Jewish bagels, shmear, and lox brunch while rehashing the details of Saturday night’s shenanigans. Nay and I decided to take it easy until our 2 pm train back to Manchester.

Upon returning to Manchester on Sunday evening, we got to enjoy a delicious Italian dinner with some of Nay’s close and extended family members. Nay has two little cousins who are so in love with her – it’s so precious. It seriously warmed my heart to see them interacting. One asked me if we speak English in “Los Angel-leeze” which was also precious.

On Monday, Nay and her aunt had planned what most people would consider a fun day at the ice skating rink. As we know, though, I have issues conforming and I’m not like most people. I have gone ice-skating at least 10 times and for the life of me CANNOT balance and skate. Skating gives me serious anxiety because there are always those rail holders that either go too fast or too slow, as if they don’t know that MY pace is the correct one, and for the love of God do NOT get me started on the panic that instills when there is no railing to hold on to because apparently people need an entrance/exit or whatever.

Needless to say, I was not impressed with the ice skating plans. Nay tried to comfort me by saying that she wasn’t a greater skater herself, but obviously the second we hit the ice she turns into freaking Kristi Yamaguchi. Some girls just have it all. So, I had her use her powers for good and got to enjoy being pushed around the rink.

On Tuesday, I was set to fly back to Israel at 5:30 pm, which left me enough time to check off the last thing on my bucket list – a visit to Taco Bell. While Brits aren’t really familiar with the gourmet fast food chain, there are a few locations in England and I needed to get my fix. It was sort of embarrassing telling people that this was actually something I wanted to do – one of Nay’s younger cousins even asked me why I wanted to go so badly when their food is “rubbish.” My answer? It reminds me of home.

While some menu items were different, I was able to get my fix and introduce my Brit to high quality Mexican food before heading back to the Holy Land.

All in all, it was an AMAZING trip that inspired me to do even more traveling while living abroad. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to live abroad, and going to England was a great blessing and gift.

Until next time x