08 July, 2008

What incursion?

"Did you hear any explosions last night?" asked Jon.
I was making breakfast and stopped to look at him, puzzled.
"Uh, no."
"I could have sworn I heard them," he said, scratching his head. "Maybe I was dreaming."

We learned today that 140 Israeli soldiers had entered the city the previous night and Jon had, in fact, heard some small explosions in the distance. As is usually the case with me, I slept right through it and didn't hear a thing. No precise word on if they're still in the city, but my understanding was that four men were taken due to their involvement with Hamas. Or something. Honestly, at this point everything is very second-hand, at best, if not third- or fourth-hand. I'm not belittling it, just admitting that, after just one week in the city, I'm not exactly tapped in yet. On the walk home this afternoon I could hear a man's voice broadcasting to the city on a loudspeaker, but could only make out a few words, more due to the distance and sound quality. I think it may have been a form of protest or a call to strike (think labor not violence). I'll be checking with folks in the morning.

In better news, my kids loved the running around/practicing the alphabet game and were rewarded with a few rounds of sharks and minnows because there are few funnier things than a bunch of kids running around with there hands on their heads pretending to be sharks. I'm trying to teach them a rather complicated alphabet song, Alligators All Around, taking it apart bit by bit for them. We'll see how they do. Today we made it to D: doing dishes. My acting out the parts garnered some quizzical looks, but they did sing with me, if only to placate the crazy lady.

Made some new friends this evening on a long walk up towards the Quran Academy with Jon and Nichole. Met two very nice women in a pharmacy and an elderly man near the academy who warned us of yet another checkpoint just up the road. The road up that way is quite dark and we decided we needed to be extra careful in the area. Somehow we figured out that some of the rules for hiking in bear country could also apply to hiking in the vicinity of checkpoints: make lots of noise to alert them to your presence by speaking loudly, shouting or banging on pots and pans; if confronted, make yourself appear larger than the soldiers to scare them away; never play dead or the will eat you. O.k., I admit we're not really sure about the last two...

Our friend, the shopkeeper across the street, said there was talk of the city being closed tomorrow, but was very vague as to why. Another roommate said he'd heard from friends that a general strike had been called. I have no idea what tomorrow will bring and how or if it will effect school and our kids. We'll see...


07 July, 2008

The "battle" for Nilin

Just a too-short, but interesting article in the Guardian to show there are non-violent organizers and protesters in the West Bank.

Off to school.

Some parting thoughts on Istanbul

My final column for the Turkish Daily News was published last week. I wrote it in the midst of my first day of teaching, which I did not expect to be my first day of teaching, which is probably why I'm sort of ho-hum on the outcome. See for yourself...

I have a new class of six children who are all more or less absolute beginners and of varying ages, but who will be attending the school this fall and need to be brought up to some sort of speed in the next two weeks. We worked on the alphabet today. However, as this is "camp" and not "school" they would prefer an hour of running screaming through the gym to an hour of lesson, but I persevered and I think there was progress. Tomorrow I devised a game that incorporates running screaming through the gym while reviewing their letters and some simple vocabulary. We'll see if they're fooled by my academic cheese on the broccoli trick.