Monday, April 6, 2009

Planning Fail

It is really difficult to plan for anything here in Palestine. This is for a variety of reasons, among the least serious being what my friend Elias refers to as "Middle Eastern Time." As in, "The meeting is at 3 o'clock," which actually means, "We'll show up at 3:30...ish..." That's an easy enough adjustment. Just plan to be late! There are of course the actual difficulties however. These include travel between cities, checkpoints, military or police interference, and of course, the universal irritation of car trouble. These planning problems have manifested themselves in my host family being stuck in Jordan five days longer than they should have, which means I am still mooching off the new priest's family. Not that it isn't nice to sleep in a bed which is long enough for my legs (because it is awesome), but of course because I don't like to impose on people. So, my "three or four day stay" has now stretched over a week, and I must admit an ensuing curiosity about where I'm headed next. Since planning is as I've stated, I will not concern myself too much with the housing situation. I have been assured it will be taken care of (finally), and I will leave it at that. As they say here, inshalla: God willing.

So, turning from the apparently unknowable tomorrow to the already-experienced yesterday... I have had quite the fortnight! Last week I was in Bethlehem, which was a wonderful experience. I went with my friend to her work at an organization which provides homes and day care for children with special needs or disabilities. She is an occupational therapist, and her cousin who worked there was a physical therapist, so I had a three day crash course in working with the disabled. While there I spent a good portion of the time also helping the teachers write up their reports in English to the board of the organization. The other few days in Bethlehem were spent touring the old city and its sites (with one sick day taken after nearly fainting in the Church of the Nativity), as well as meeting some friends at restaurants around town. I also got a chance to photograph some of the settlement roads and the apartheid wall, and was thrilled to see several of Banksy's pieces painted around the city. All in all it was a great week. Some of the photos are on facebook, I'll get around to making a link or a Flickr account later...

The week since then has been a weird whirlwind of attempted planning, failed planning, and some pretty sizable successes. As I mentioned I am staying with George and his family, which was unforseen, though this has turned out to be a good thing. The relative calm of living here for the week has allowed me a much better focus for preparing for my English sessions. I am now teaching four sessions a week, with a possible fifth to come, which means I need a pretty good chunk of time per day at a computer writing up lesson plans. Most of today was spent creating a handout on Simple and Progressive verb tenses (I know, aren't you jealous?), and writing up syllabi for the Clinic group and the Women's group sessions. I also have a session with the youth (shabeebee) on Fridays which will take some work as well. The three groups are at fairly disparate levels, so each requires its own take and special planning. I have to admit that I'm surprised that I am doing this (I'm a teacher? What!?), and even more surprised that apparently I am doing it well. It's a lot of fun though, so I guess I'm a pretty lucky girl. Not many people get to live somewhere like this, work all day on something you enjoy, and follow it up with tea on the porch at a good friend's house while the sun sets over the hills. I think after several rough weeks I've finally found my stride.


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