Good Morning Nablus

When I wake up and walk into the kitchen to make my tea, this is the view I have every morning.  Nablus is very beautiful, as is this entire region.  I can never get over it.

Today was my first day teaching English class.  I am teaching young adults beginning English on Mondays and Wednesdays.  The classes are two hours long.  And my god, teaching beginning English is hard!  I had a translator, al humdidilah, but the class just got so confused very easily.  I tried slowing down how fast I talk, and the words I was using, but it’s still very difficult.  Simply saying “Repeat after me” is confusing to them.  So the translator, who is there to assist me, had to repeat almost everything I said.  I hope when I learn more Arabic–we are offered free classes–this problem will gradually decrease.  Needless to say, my first class was  a bit of a disaster and even though I had planned to teach how to have a very basic conversation, I still threw a lot at them, I think.  I was teaching what to say when you meet someone: What’s your name? Where do you live? etc.  But inshallah I just keep reviewing and reviewing they will catch on.  We spent the entire class reviewing the questions and answers and I think I at least have an idea of where they are at so I don’t confuse them again.  Not surprisingly, a lot of their problems arise around the verb “to be” as there is no state of being in Arabic.  Ana quiesseh literally means “I good.”  They have no need for “be” as a verb.  And “to be” is a very big concept for beginners.

My theatre class is still being coordinated, and I feel much more confident with teaching in this department since I was a theatre camp counselor for two years.  I am also much more passionate about teaching it, which I think will help.

Our classes are just now starting because our first two days we were supposed to be headed to the village of Yanoun to visit the International House there.  However, settlers were setting fire to the villagers’ olive trees and causing trouble, making it dangerous for us to get there.  This was the same day many settlers set fire to a mosque in Kasra, also a nearby village, and wrote in graffiti.  Click here for the article. Anyway, I have had a lot of free time because of this.  Yesterday evening I wandered up to Mount Jayzim, where an old sect of Jews called Samaritans live.  There are 400 here and 300 in Tel Aviv.  They speak Arabic and have been living in this community for hundreds of years, coexisting with the Palestinians in Nablus.  I looked at ruins of a Roman Byzantine church and a Samaritan temple, pointed out to me by a local named Abid.  He was very nice and helped me climb up into the ancient mosque of Saladin.  But then, of course, he wanted an outrageous tip.  50 sheckels, about 15 dollars.  I gave him the equivalent to 5 dollars and he was very upset.  People in this region seem to think Americans have a lot of money, even though the rich ones are probably not spending their time in the West Bank wandering an obscure village at the top of a mountain.

I am headed to Ramallah on Friday to see the lovely Batrawi family with whom I stayed for a week last year.  This Friday, however, is when the Palestinian Authority will present their resolution for statehood to the UN and all of us here are anxiously awaiting what happens.  Will Israel be held accountable for their settlements in the West Bank?  Maybe, but the more scary thing is that the Israeli military is reportedly “training” settlers for potential clashes with Palestinians (BBC).

Oy.  Time for bed.

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