This was a great week, particularly because I realized that I am starting to finally feel settled in Israel. I now have a schedule and a routine – with new habits included! In London life was kind of fake to me, I never felt sad or mad for the most part. But the difference being in Israel is that this is no vacation, I am living here. So I now realize I am allowed to have days where I feel sad, mad, and for the most part, just plain glad.
Anyway, this week I volunteered at the thrift store again and it was great. The store is going to open up next Tuesday so this week we picked up garbage that had collected outside and then we came inside and sorted through donated clothes. We chose the ones that were keepers and we tossed the ones that weren’t.
A new boy was volunteering this week along with our manager Daphna. Neither of them speak English that well, although the boy did speak a little. It was great though because it forced Lindsey and I to speak Hebrew. I was told by the boy that I spoke good Hebrew and I think that is the best compliment I have yet to receive upon being here. In that moment I felt like all my hard work in studying has paid off! Because I am nowhere near bi-lingual, sometimes I feel like I am never going to learn to speak Hebrew. But when I think about how far I’ve come just by being here almost for two months now (crazy how time is flying!) I realize that I could leave Israel as a chick who speaks two languages.
In other news, let’s have a little geography lesson. Ashqelon is about 10 miles from the Gaza Strip. It is pretty crazy to think about, but I don’t think it is smart to focus on my location in the world that often or else I could get unnecessarily paranoid. However, sometimes things happen and you realize just how close you are. It was very apparent yesterday when we were sitting in Ulpan class and a siren went off. When this happens it usually signals that Qassam rockets are being launched into Ashqelon from those who are living in Gaza. Since being here one has already hit the local Ashqelon mall. Fortunately no one except the mall was hurt in that incident. In most cases Hamas is sending bomb materials through the Ashdod port to people living in Gaza. Those people then create the bombs in their basement. However, because of how strict Israeli security is, bomb materials that actually get through are not particularly that powerful. So when a rocket is launched into Ashqelon, or elsewhere in the nearby area, the results on people tend to typically be purely psychological.
Yesterday the siren was just a false alarm. For me though, it was the first time that I have truly experienced the reality of how close I am to the Gaza strip, and on a larger scale, where I am living in this world. All around me are countries that has people living in them that does not want Israel nor its people to exist. The look on my Ulpan teachers face when the siren went off was the scariest part for me. We immediately left the classroom and moved to the center of the building, which was what we learned to do should something like that happen. Our teacher later told us that in the past a rocket hit Ashqelon just a few feet from her house. Fortunately everything was Ok. And hopefully everything will continue to be Ok while I am here, and onward for Ashqelon and Israel.
On better news, after Ulpan ended Ariel and I headed to Tel Aviv for the day to reunite with our mutual friend Miriam! Miriam and I went on USY on Wheels together and have since remained very close friends. She flew to Israel just two days ago and is staying here until early July 2011. I am so excited and fortunate to have someone so close to me here that I can now hang out with often. It was great seeing her particularly because a little piece of home entered my life again for the first time in almost two months.
Now it is officially the weekend and I have some goals set for myself that I hope to accomplish. Nothing major, just simple ones like studying Hebrew, working on my Ashqelon Foundation newsletter, going to the grocery store, and most importantly, watching the Yankees hopefully win! Go Bronx Bombers!