Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Nablus New Start

Today is my third day in Nablus, Palestine.  I arrived on Sunday afternoon after spending a few days in Jerusalem.

My first day I got settled into the volunteer housing, saw a little of the city, got a new SIM card for my phone, and had a lovely dinner with the other Project Hope volunteers.  For those who don't know, I'm spending the next two months teaching English and maybe other things here in Nablus.  If you want to know more about Project Hope, they have a website,  Check it out.  There are currently 9 of us volunteering here, but several are leaving soon and others will be coming, so the number will fluctuate over the time I'm here.  Currently, volunteers are from the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, England, and France.

It's chilly here and today it's rainy.  Thankfully, we have space heaters in our living space and lots of blankets for our beds.  We turn the space heaters off overnight, so we don't use so much electricity, but the blankets have kept me cozy warm.  During the day, dressing in layers is working pretty well.  We are also asked to be very mindful of our water use, since the tank for the house is filled every few days and if we use all the water...well, we wait until the tank is filled again.  The Israelis control water access in Palestine, though in Israel, Israeli water use is not limited...

I haven't yet established a routine, but what is clear is that it will be very different from my India routine.  Whereas in India, I got up at 6:00 and was the last one to wake up by an hour or so, here I got up a little after 8:00 and was one of the first.  My first morning I set my alarm for 7:20.  No one was up then and I stayed in my warm bed until I heard others stirring.

My teaching schedule is a work in progress and, from what I can tell by talking to volunteers, it will be a work in progress the whole time I'm here.  I was supposed to have my first class last night with a group of guys who  had completed the first level but wanted to work on their speaking skills.  The class was supposed to be at 6:00 in the evening.  They arrived at 6:50.  We didn't have class and set the class for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday from 6:30 to 7:30.  We'll see what happens tonight.  This morning I did get to teach a class, going to a center where I had a group of 10 to 13 year-olds; there were 13 or 14 kids, I think.  The first class is always a process of figuring out what the kids know.  These kids were more advanced than I was expecting them to be, so I didn't do a whole lot of teaching, but did learn (most of) their names, learn a little about them, their interests and families and discovered one set of vocabulary that I can teach them.  The director of the center said they like worksheets.  I'm not much of a worksheet person.  I suppose we'll meet somewhere in the middle on that...

From my first few days here, I've realized that my motto for my time away from home, "be flexible" is going to be very important here.  Things are much more in flux than they were in Chatra.  Things that will change over the time I'm here include who I'll be living with, what I'll be teaching, what my day-to-day schedule is, to name a few.  One thing I didn't mention in my "Missing" post that I will really miss is the hour of community prayer I had with the sisters.  That time served to help me to process and/or let go of the stresses of each day.  I definitely need to find a way, a time, a space to do that for myself here.  I'll let you know when I figure that out.  Maybe I'll use the quiet mornings for that...

Here I think I'll be able to get out more than I did when I was in Chatra, to explore Nablus in a way I didn't explore Chatra.  Though some people get nervous at the mention of Palestine, in general things here are pretty safe.  No worries about pickpockets or theft.  I have more freedom to wander, something which was not encouraged in Chatra because of Maoist activity in the area.

So there is a little introduction to the next few months.  Already I've heard stories of Palestinians that I'm sure I'll begin to share with you soon.  I look forward to writing more since there is a computer at the house and WiFi. Until the next time...


  1. OK Cory, I'm paying close attention! If there is anything you need or are concerned about I'll try to find a link on this end. Love, D