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of 111 days.

It is wild to think that I have been in Israel for almost 4 months.

In some ways, it feels like 4 years...other times, like 4 days.

Working in an Israeli school is like nothing I could have ever imagined. It is insanity (balagan, as we would say) and noise and lack of organization. But, in a way, it is the best system to grow up in. Israeli children are given authority that American children could only dream of. There is an honor system in the way that homework is checked, discipline is given out, and compliments are received.

If a fight breaks out in the hallways (and it always does), children are the first-responders, and rarely do teachers step in. The older ones watch out for the younger, and take care of them if there is an issue. If someone is pushed down, 5 hands are quickly there to reach out and pull them back up. "At beseder?" ("Are you okay?") is met with "Ken" ("Yes") and the day goes on.

Students are unafraid of speaking up or talking to their elders. Which has shocked me (a 22 year old woman who is terrified of making her own doctor's appointments over the phone) to my very core. This type of interaction between pupil and teacher causes a ruckus, because on one hand children are taught to stand up for themselves, and on another it causes a disruption in class. There is no such thing as silence in an Israeli school. There is screaming, crying, tantrums, slamming of doors, throwing of chairs, and a constant battle to begin teaching.

But once the dust is settled, the true nature of Israeli learning becomes visible. Students are eager, hungry, to learn. If a question is put to the class, all hands shoot up into the air, regardless of whether or not the pupils actually know the answer. English, especially, is a hot subject. Us Americans are treated like celebrities, and I'm greeted every morning by excited kids asking me in their beautiful, broken, English if I know Katy Perry or Madonna.

It is interesting to see them learn and grow. They have accessibility to resources that I did not when I was growing up. Apps like Music.ly, Snapchat, and Instagram have given these children a peek into American life and culture. English is easier to learn when they are able to have conversations online with people around the world. Most of my boys play GTA or Call of Duty online, and the older ones are near fluent in conversation because of it.

Granted, some of the words they know via gaming aren't the most civilized of language, but at least they use them with proper grammar. I don't know whether to nit-pick this or not. I'm almost proud.

What a joy it's been. What a terror.

I never truly know what I will walk into when I cross the threshold of the school each morning. Sometimes I am exhausted by the second bell, sometimes I want to cry tears of joy because a student that has been struggling has finally learned her letters. Each day brings something new and I am beyond lucky to participate in this experience.

I try not to think about the end of these 10 months, because I cannot imagine what it will be like to not see my students' faces every day. We have become family. I thought it would be more difficult to fit in, but it is not. They've embraced my colleagues and I wholeheartedly, without hesitation.

And that is what Israeli culture is about, I think. Embrace first, think second. Let everyone in. Hospitality (I am constantly met with, "Please sit!") and love.

The food is pretty great, also.

These have been my first 111 days, and I cannot wait for the next 111.

I am well, I am happy, and I am exhausted.

Sunsets in Haifa.

The view ain't so bad, either.

Until the next!

~DeeDee

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