Connecting through language

MEET - January 2017

Many students in the US take at least one foreign language class during their high school careers. As with most things, some students hate their foreign language classes, some love them, and some could care less about them. I learned French in high school and actually really enjoyed it. The nerdy side of me enjoyed mastering various verb conjugations and learning new vocabulary words. And of course, watching French movies was quite entertaining. Since arriving in the Middle East, however, I have discovered what I think is an even more important outcome of learning a foreign language.

True Story #1:

After spending a long night at the open session for Nazareth students, Ted and I go for a walk near our hostel. Ted wants me to meet his “potato friend” whom he had met the previous week. We arrive at the door of a small baked potato shop and are welcomed in by a man…

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Students will be students

MEET - January 2017

It’s been a while since I wrote specifically about the MEET students, so I thought now would be as good of a time as any.

My typical teaching schedule looks like this:

SundayYear 2FlaskJerusalem
MondayYear 1Python OOP and inheritanceJerusalem
TuesdayAllOpen Session (office hours)Jerusalem
WednesdayAllOpen Session (office hours)Nazareth
ThursdayYear 1Python OOP and inheritanceNazareth

As you might notice, we see each student 1-2 times per week, which is not a lot, considering that Shankha and I are here for only four weeks. Anyway, we’ve been doing the best we can to make the most out of each 3-hour session.

I’ve noticed that the students generally are not afraid to ask for help when they need it. In fact, they are so comfortable asking questions that sometimes they’ll forgo the process of reading the instructions…

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Israel Museum Finds

Appreciating art in Jerusalem

MEET - January 2017

The worst part about getting my phone stolen is being unable to share the photos that I took today during my walk through the Rehavia Park Valley of the Cross and at the Israel Museum. You’ll just have to accept the reproducible photos that I found online.

I’ve actually never gone to a museum by myself, so it was pretty neat having the freedom to go through the exhibits at my own pace. Rather than try and cover every inch (or centimeter) of the museum, I chose to delve into only a few exhibits.

Shrine of the Book

My first stop was the Shrine of the Book, which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls. There are tons of pictures online of the white dome, which is supposed to resemble the tops of the jars that originally housed the scrolls.

1280px-israel_-_jerusalem_-_shrine_of_the_book Shrine of the Book

Less commonly photographed is the black basalt wall…

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Attention aux pickpockets

How do I manage to get myself into these situations…

MEET - January 2017

No, I did not photograph the anti-pickpocket graffiti. In fact, I am sorry to report that I will not be sharing any of the photos I took today. It’s a shame because there were some awesome photos in today’s batch.

Now, the reason why I won’t be sharing my photos is that I can’t. My phone was stolen as I was walking along Yafo Street. Some old man came up behind me and tried to sell me a string of postcards. He was getting all up in my personal space, but I thought it was just because he really wanted to sell me postcards. I insisted that I didn’t want to buy any, and eventually he let me leave. As I kept walking down the street, I started to feel a little bad for not purchasing postcards from him. That is until I reached the next intersection and realized that my phone was…

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Deeper understanding

MEET - January 2017

Our mission is to educate and empower tomorrow’s most promising Palestinian and Israeli leaders to take action towards creating positive social and political impact in the Middle East.
—MEET mission statement

Spending the day with Lorenzo gave us an opportunity to learn more about the history of MEET, as well as how the program has evolved since its conception in 2004. I thought I’d share a brief story from yesterday that resonated with me.

A relatively newer component of the MEET program is the Deeper Understanding curricula. The goal of this additional component is to help foster—you guessed it—a deeper understanding between the Israeli and Palestinian students. Lorenzo told us about one particular emotion-filled Deeper Understanding class, during which the students were asked to bring in an object that meant a lot to their family and culture. One Palestinian student brought the keys to his grandmother’s home before they were…

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Safe arrival in Jerusalem

The beginning of a month-long adventure in Jerusalem and Nazareth!

MEET - January 2017


After a full day of traveling, Shankha and I finally made it to our apartment in Jerusalem! Even though we haven’t spent a full day here yet, I’ve already noticed a few cultural differences since boarding my plane to Tel Aviv.

The first thing that struck me on my flight from San Francisco to Tel Aviv was how friendly the passengers were with each other. I’ll admit that whenever I board an airplane, I always wonder who the person sitting next to me will be and whether or not we’ll have an interesting conversation. More often that not, we don’t speak a word to each other besides excusing ourselves to go to the bathroom. However, on my Tel Aviv flight, I noticed several strangers striking up friendly conversations with each other. They were speaking in Hebrew, so I had no idea what they were talking about, though I did pick up the words 

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