I apologize for not posting in several weeks. Coming back from the break, I haven't had much time to breath, much less reflect and write. Now that I have to simultaneously make worksheets and readings for the current week and create lesson plans for the upcoming week, all this with a finicky computer, poor internet and a shared printer I am not linked to, I basically work around the clock. Its not a problem, I knew this was going to be a lot of work, but it explains why I have been so absent in updating.
Its mostly been work, but I have had a chance to get out too. A couple Thursdays ago (Thursday is the last day of the school week, then Friday and Saturday are the weekend and Sunday starts the week off), me and some girls had a girls night out in Ramallah. Some UK musicians we had met were playing at a pub there so we went to watch. It was like walking into a European pub. 90% of the people were ex-pats from various countries. We felt like we had left Palestine. It was bizarre. We ended up crashing at the house of one of the Americans we had met there.
Then last weekend was Thanksgiving. We all made dishes and brought them to our friend Emma's apartment for a Thanksgiving feast. We would have liked to have it at our house, but the camp is more conservative, and we aren't allowed to have men in our apartment. The American we met in Ramallah came too and brought his other two roommates. Two are from Seattle and the other from Hawaii. We also had a mix of other nationalities getting a taste of a traditional...or semi-traditional Thanksgiving. We had sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, Musaka, rice, fruit salad, and lots of other dishes. The guys from Ramallah brought a 16 pound turkey which Emma masterfully baked in a less than legitimate oven. It was great to have all the traditional food and be around friends from work and outside of work. It didnt really feel like a normal Thanksgiving, but I think the word "normal" when referring to holidays is going to change now that I'm an adult on my own. It wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be, but the pang of not being home with my family and not being able to see my best friends from home was definitely still sharp. Christmas will be the real test I suppose.
Speaking of which, the Christmas season has begun in our little house. Walking outside you would never know, but inside we now have a Charlie Brown Christmas tree Lindsey bought yesterday. We put up some Ramadan lights we found in the closet, and plan to get more decorations this weekend (we plan on taking a night/day trip to Bethlehem). Lindsey also has materials to make clay ornaments and paint them, and then we intend to string popcorn as well and make several other paper-based decorations for the house. We have officially turned on the Christmas music and have even caught a couple Christmas movies on TV (of course none of the good ones, but for now we're just happy for the familiarity of Christmas Spirit beyond our own computers and walls). They also have a TON of chocolate commercial looking advent calendars!! We're each getting one in our apartment! Its funny because the kids have been running around with them for weeks just eating the candy. We also spotted some chocolate Santas at the supermarket. I have no doubt Ramallah and Bethlehem have more since they have significant Christian populations, whereas there are very few here.
Our big plan is to go to Bethlehem for Christmas Eve and then either come home or stay with friends in Ramallah for Christmas day (more comfortable and intimate than being in a city where we don't have a place to stay). I'm pretty excited for that!
Tattoos: We've been talking about getting them in Bethlehem, something small. I might not be ready for that kind of commitment, but what I did end up with was four temporary tattoos from my Balata kids plastered on my hands and wrists...of course who doesn't want four cars on their hands??
Speaking of my Balata kids, they seriously make all the pain worth it, well the second class at least. The private school class is always a challenge because the kids do not listen. Then I commute to Balata and teach a now very large class of beginners. Its hard because the levels are all over the place and maintaining control of such a wide range of ages and levels is difficult. But then comes my older kids. The class is smaller and they always make me smile. There are two girls in the class whom I just love. They are so sweet and eager to learn and they tell me they love me after class. One day the one girl came to class looking upset. I took her outside and found out a couple of older boys had pushed her over. It's one of the few times where I have very seriously wanted to beat someone up. Had the boys been around, I think I would have thrown a couple punches and said some pretty terrible things, so maybe it is a good thing they weren't around...