Don’t worry, be happy

So…Iran is building a nuclear weapon. Syria is going to shit and massacring countless people and children while the world watches but does nothing. Israel is dealing with dealing with a serious illegal migration problem that has led to violence and protests. אבל אל תדאגו. יהיה בסדר (but don’t worry. Everything will be ok).

Since there’s so much turmoil going on, it’s hard to not get down about things. I like to think of myself as a realistic optimistic…I am aware of the bad stuff going on around me but choose to focus on the good stuff as well. However, I’ll admit that these past few weeks I’ve definitely been more of a Negative Nancy than I usually am. But this week I’ve come to the realization that life is about so much more than the grand overall scheme of things. It’s about the daily occurrences that make the grand overall scheme of things worth trekking though. It’s about collecting the small reasons to smile so that when you face a reason not to smile, you have a defense. Shlomy’s dad Yossi is a very wise man. He lives his life with the philosophy that every day is his birthday. He says that any day that he and his family is healthy and able bodied is a gift from G-d and you should treasure it. Now, unless you know Yossi you may be rolling your eyes at such a cliche statement, but I know Yossi and I can tell you that he truly believes this. Yossi always has a huge smile on his face and I can guarantee that if there were more people like Yossi and his family in this world, it would be a much better, happier place.

Today at school, for example, I was brooding over something that is really not all that important, but for some reason it was really getting me down. Anyway, after spending way too long feeling hopeless, one of my students came up to me and asked me if I’ll be at school next year. When I said no, she looked like she was going to cry and I can honestly say that my feelings of despair just melted away. Why should I waste my time thinking about something that doesn’t benefit me when I can focus on all of the wonderful things going on around me? 

There’s a girl that I tutor from the 4th grade and when I first started working with her she could barely recognize the letters of the alphabet and today she looked at all of the words that I gave her and not only read the words instantly, but she translated them as well. I was so excited and proud of her! She’s such a sweetheart. She told me today that even though there will be new English speaking volunteers at my school next year, she will still be wishing I was there. Full disclosure: I have been pretty lazy this year, and since the next round of ITFers actually need a background in education, it’s entirely possible that I’ll look like a major slacker compared to them. But nonetheless…it was so sweet and it made my day to see her doing so well!

2 weeks ago was Shavuot and I spent the holiday with Rozit and her family. I know that anyone who consistently reads my blog (mom and dad) is probably sick of me bragging about how amazing Rozit is, but I have to say it again; she’s phenomenal! She has a huge heart and cares so much about everyone around her. An Israeli tradition for Shavuot (the holiday commemorating the reception of the Torah at Mt. Sinai) is for the kids to have water balloons fight…at Rozit’s house, we all had a water balloon fight. One of her relatives has a reputation for being relentless and this year he didn’t disappoint.  He immediately grabbed a hose and took aim at the nearest person to him…and I happened to be the lucky victim. But don’t worry – I managed to dump a pitcher on him when he wasn’t looking. Yesh! The rest of the holiday was, of course, spent eating way too much food and hanging out with Rozit and her adorable kids.

At the end of May, we had an concert where each of the 11 schools where the ITFers volunteer, and my school did amazing! There were 27 6th graders and they sang and danced and in my (unbiased) opinion, they were the best school that performed. I am so proud of them! They said that they really enjoyed it, and there are a few kids who struggled in English but now come up and initiate conversations specifically so that they can practice English. Speaking of concerts… Madonna played in Tel Aviv and a few of us walked to the park next to the stadium where she performed and we watched it for free.  It was pretty cool being able to dance to a live version of “Like a Prayer” in the middle of a park.

I have less than a month left in Israel and I’m trying really hard to make it count. I didn’t realize how many people I know here, and it turns out that I won’t even have time to see a lot of them before I leave. Oh well, I guess that means I’ll have to come back soon! These next few weeks are going to be super busy (and probably very emotional). I fell totally head over heels in love with the country and everyone in it, and I know that this is not the end of my journey…it just can’t be. 


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