Three days after our arrival in Yafo, my volunteer group was warmly welcomed to the neighborhood by having all of our apartments broken into and every electronic item we owned stolen… they even took my hair dryer and power adapter. It wasn’t exactly an experience that makes a person feel all warm and fuzzy inside, and it caused not only a serious technological disconnect for many of us, but terrible financial, emotional, and mental strife. After a second break-in just 6 weeks later, the program finally put bars on the windows and had alarms installed… I have mixed feelings about the whole situation, but will leave it at that.
Positive experiences during the past 2 months would include…
- Meeting new, interesting people
- Beginning to learn / grasp Hebrew
- Some nice intellectual stimuli and classes delving into controversial topics and discussions regarding Jewish people, Israel, etc.
- Experiencing some Kibbutz life
- Being in Israel for the high holidays, and being able to learn about them– actually learn about them for the first time in my life
- Exploring bits of Tel Aviv, Yafo, Rishon Lezion, and Jerusalem
- Getting through my first bout with being homesick
After a very long process, I have chosen my volunteer placements and begun volunteering. So far I am really enjoying the places that I chose. My first choice was a center for Arab women who want to positively advance their lives, become financially independent, and / or become entrepreneurs. I am helping with the marketing of their Jaffa Dolls, and assisting in an English course. They are surveying the women to see if they would like to learn some art, and I may begin teaching a class for that as well. I’m excited to be attending their launch tonight in Yafo for the Jaffa dolls, and am in contact with some stores in the U.S. who may agree to sell the dolls. In addition to this, I am teaching art to at-risk youth through an after school program in Tel Aviv-Yafo, and volunteering as an English tutor for Ethiopian youth in Rishon Lezion through a program called Homework at Home.
It is nice to finally have some sort of schedule, and once again have a computer… and I am beginning to feel a little safer in my home now that some precautions for the safe keeping of me and my possessions are in place. I am looking forward to what these next 8 months will have in store for me, and eagerly awaiting letters and care packages.
Until next time…