“Hello. What’s your name?”

Lesson 1: You never know where your day will end up in Palestine.

This afternoon, I went to my theatre class at 2 pm and afterwards went directly to Balata camp to see a circus act that was supposed to perform. After a short act of just juggling, Ouided and I stayed and chatted with swarms of children. And by chat, I really mean saying “My name is Abby. We anti?” over and over again. The swarms of children then proceeded to put flowers (about 10 each I would say) in our hair. I have never seen so many children in one place! Finally, the Project Hope staff was ready to leave, so we gathered together for a taxi, but Lindsey invited me to come with her and some of her class to Tell Balata. So we rode up to the ruins in a bus owned by Sharuk’s father (one of the students). We wandered the tell and I had my moments of archaeology geekiness by pointing out how clear the layers were in some of the squares and how awesome every single wall was. It was quite exciting! After the tour, we squeezed through a whole in a fence into and olive and fig grove owned by Sharuk’s grandfather. I was handed fresh fig after fresh fig. They were absolutely amazing! But I think I had around ten total, and I was feeling the overdose later. We explored all the vegetables the family grew, and then walked up to the house to meet the rest of the family. More figs were brought out, but I couldn’t even look at them. We talked a long time, then dinner was on the table–a mixture of tahini, olive oil, tomatoes, and peppers with bread and mini egglplants with almonds in the middle– and then there was tea and more talking. We were even offered a bed for the night, but both Lindsey and I have class in the morning, so we refused the offer. But it is now 10 pm. And I have been away since 2:00. Oh life.

Two Brits and an Australian have joined the gang since my last update. I have never drunk so much tea in my life since Floss and Matthew arrived (the Brits obviously). They make it at least five times a day. I also find that I say a lot of things in a British accent without meaning to now. Kind of like how I started talking in a Chicago accent, but now it is completely gone given the absence of native Chicagoans. So perhaps I will be speaking Arabic in an English accent when I arrive home. It could get interesting. But they are all lovely people, and will be here the whole three months like me. The others are leaving in a week and a half! Time certainly flies. And yet I feel as if I have been here more than a month already.

My five and six year olds were split into two groups, thank god. So now I have 12 at a time. And they have more fun this way as well and there is no more crying upon seeing me. Yay! This is a good feeling. My theatre class started Sunday and it went very well. It’s at another refugee camp, Askar, so they were undoubtedly rowdy but eager to learn some theatre games. Today, however, there were only two girls from the last class and everyone else was different. So we played some games over. And I was hoping to create a short play by the end of the class, but if the children are different every time this will be impossible. I was told, however, by the woman at Askar that these girls will be it from now on. It really makes me happy that they become so enthusiastic during the games, but sometiimes they are so much so that they completely stop paying attention and just start shouting. These kids are hard work, man.

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