Three Days

This weekend was very busy. check out my Facebook page: Kanika Staten for photos and videos or this weekend.

Friday: Ran in the Bethlehem 5k with Amy and Dalia. I am not sure exactually when we started so it is hard to know how well I did. But as far as I know I ran a 44 minute 5K. Which is about where I was when I first started running cross-country. It not a competitive time at all. But that time is about 8 minute 48 sec 1K splits. I would ideally like to be running 6 minute 12 sec mile splits. But I am not sure I can shave off 2 minutes and 10 secs off my splits in one month. But I am not super concerned about. I want to do the best I can realistically based on my current injuries and physical fitness.

Had breakfast at Dalia’s house with her and Amy, in Bethlehem. I was amazing.

Lunch at Mishleen’s house. Visited with her family. It was great. I made a new friend with Mishleen’s granddaughter, Elain. She is a very happy baby with a smile so big it looks like it would hurt. SO contagious.

Cleaned parts of my house.

First meeting for the film animation club. It went well. I am hoping there will be time to do another film. I told them the length that we are aiming so we will see how long we will make it. The max I am willing to do is 10-15 minutes because of the time it takes to edit. The longer the film, the longer it can take to edit.

Meet an awesome woman here to plant trees. It is a symbolic and pragmatic political statement that fights against the Israeli occupation of the West. Message me if you want more details about this. Or maybe that can be a later post. Talked with two awesome locals. One if doing his Ph.D and offered some very valuable advice on how to focus interests and thoughts and what the criterion are for the program.

Clare had diner with me. I cooked curried veggies and Dahl soup. It was awesome.

Me and Clare saw a documentary about murals around the world that relate to trauma and conflict. We, as was the majority of the group, were very critical of the West Bank murals. We did not feel that the area was represented clearly as other areas of the world were. There was major consistency issue with the presentation of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and the murals. The film, with its flaws is pretty awesome. I wish they had just removed the West Bank featurette section because it is so so problematic. The movie inspired me and Clare. We are at the beginning stages of a creative project with our schools. More about that later.

Me and Clare went to my host communities church.

We failed for the second time to get a hoodie from this store in Beit Jala near Bab Askak. We did have our first planning meet at Toast-R-Us with our respective latte/mocha.

We had Sushi in Bethlehem.

Failed to get a DVD from Dream DVD because like the store with hoodies, the DVD store was closed. The hoodie should was close for whatever reason. Because its sunday? Not a typical reason. And the DVD shop was close probably because it was lunch time when we went.

Then I came home, sent a bunch of email. Got organized for the week. Cooked for the week and wrote this post.

sick and illiterate

So I went on retreat with the other volunteers (will post about that soon). And then I went to a film festival (also I will post about that separately). Then in the second week of December, I got very sick. I had some type of bacterial infection. Possibly a lung infection, no definitive type of bacterial infection was given to me. But my blood work and symptoms confirmed that it was indeed a bacterial infection. Anyway, things went from bad to worse. I lost my voice for two days. I was in and out of the local clinic and received three nebulizer treatments because of impaired breathing. The experience kinda felt like slowly drowning. And then today (December 14th) I saw an asthma specialist in Jerusalem. He gave me the maintenance medication I was hoping for, so that I can start to get my asthma under control. Before I got sick, I was having frequent attacks and using my inhaler way more than I have needed to in a while.

Now I have new meds and “in shallah” God willing my asthma will be much better managed.

While I was sick my host family and my German volunteer neighbor were awesome. My host mom met my at the clinic and took me again the next night. My host brother came and waited in the clinic with me and gave me a ride home. And I felt very loved and supported because they were there. My German neighbor (Andres) gave me this awesome “get well” basket. It had oranges, tea, instant chicken noodle soup (just add water) and German Chocolate. Wow!

Now for more about the trip to see the Lung Specialist who know a lot, about asthma…
I spend a lot of time talking with and surrounded by people who speak arabic and things written in arabic. So, going to the medical center was intense. Not only did I not read Hebrew (so I literate) I also do not speak Hebrew. Although most people speak some English, there are many people to who do not or I have trouble understanding the english words because of a strong accent. Or they do not know the word for what I need. I can pull out words of Arabic when people are talking and that helps me get what I need. But at the medical center, I could not do that. I was working those logic and reasoning skills to the bone, which can also not lead to success because may things rely on social constructs. And I am in a social system that is foreign. Anyway, after spending nearly that amount of my entire monthly stipend on office fees, medication and tests I was exhausted.

I was nice visit my host family. And eventhough I could not read the words on the tv (I’m illiterate in Arabic too) it was nice to hear the familiar words of Palestinian Arabic. I had a great diner with an arugula salad and these pastries that I love. Some are filled with veggies and cheese others are filled with meet. And there these other pastries that are very common here. They are kinda like pizza in their shape but there is either only meat or meat with peppers on top of the bread and there is no cheese. There is an other version of these same pastries that is the same pizza look-a-like bread with just cheese on top. I sometimes get that last one at work. I will point to the pastry and say “biddi jebna” I want cheese

Zarb Zaki

As a YAGM (Young Adult in Global Mission) volunteer through the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America) serving at the invitation of the ELCJHL (Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jordan and the Holy Land), we learned about the accompaniment model for modern mission work in preparation for our year of service.

I could spend the rest of this post explaining all the verbiage and acromions in that first sentence. But frankly, all of that falls away when I consider my actions, and my heart in relation to this place.
I could spend several posts explaining what accompaniment is and how it is different from older mission models. Topics would include: Why we say mission instead of missions; What is the accompaniment model; Why do mission work in Christian towns and neighborhoods; and What does the accompaniment model look like in practice?

But I would like to consider the last topic/question. This is a topic with which I have been wrestling, within my context of Jerusalem/West Bank: with my host family and with my volunteer sites. To uncover what accompaniment looks like as I practice it, I inevitably generated more questions. What does it mean to accompany the people around me? What does it mean to accompany the international population living the areas in which I serve? I think I am starting to see what the answer is to some of these questions. Today was a great example.

Today was special. We had Zarb. Now, if you had an invitation to some other event, like I did, most Palestinians will tell you to go and eat Zarb. I was invited to Thanksgiving dinner with my church, a once a year gathering. Another volunteer was also invited to attend thanksgiving dinner with his church. And we were both told we should go and eat Zarb. No surprise that food seems to be a great medium for accompanying people.

Accompaniment first started to take form for me as noticing and sharing in the things that my host community values. As Gina told me about how much she loves Zarb, her eyes lit-up as she explained that her family only has it once a year. Fadi later explained it is because he does not want to build the Zarb oven, which took him several hours to build. I knew from the testimonies of my host father and my host sister, I was going to experience something special. The food was incredible.

Accompaniment also means to build meaningful relationships through noticing and sharing in the values of my host community. Today, as I walked up the steep hill to church, I was very cold and tired. A church member I had met last week, drove past me a told me to get it. It met a lot to me for her to notice me; she knew who I was and were I was going without asking. That struck something in me. I hope my actions and words justly express the deep gratitude my heart feels for the people here and their hospitality.

Accompaniment is the inclusion of someone or people into your life that creates deep, intimate relationships; in other words, strong platonic love for another person. After service several people approached and talked with me at length. And I felt so welcomed. Building relationships is slow. But, I can see how my personality and interest may lead to some powerful relationship with people in my host community. One of those individuals I talked with today. Her grandmother lives near my host family; so, she dropped me off, at my host families house.

This is only the beginning. I am enthralled by the ways my host community will make known how I should love the people around me. And I feel blessed to receive the love and hospitality my host community continues to show me.

I’m a Little Tea Pot

Today I went to one of my Volunteer school sites. The far away one. I’ll called it DB. I have found by simply taking a deep breathe then saying to myself, in my head, “You can do this.” I walk into the situation level headed and confident. So that is what I did today when a Kindergarten teacher told me she had to return to her classroom and that the English teacher (the main teacher for that 40 minute period) would come in 5 mins. She was delayed because she was shutting down an old computer. A slow old computer.

Now I, the Foreigner, that speak maybe 10 words of Arabic was standing before 14 silent five-year-olds. In general my interaction with Tiny people has been fascinating. Overall, they are much more self-aware and calm than I remember American 4 and 5 year-olds being. Anyway, back to toady. The other teacher on the way out suggested that I could sing a song or talk with them. They were all staring at me with various looks. Looks of wonder. Anticipation. Fear. Excitement. Confusion. So I decided to teach them a dance. I seemed like a great plan. I demonstrated the “I’m a little tea pot” moves maybe 7 times; I made up some moves that might have some bases in the actual moves of the song, that I learned when I was four. So, I slowly demonstrated the first four times then progressively got faster the following three times.

Then I asked one student, “Shu ismik?” [What is your name?]

I called her to come stand in front of me, “Yelluh, yelluh!” [Come on/let’s go!] Then I did the same for a boy.

I had them stand in front of the class and do the moves with me. With one of the pairs, one boy did not want to do it. He would do the first motion then stop. I was telling him, “You’re not doing it. Yelluh.” And then I would start over.” He giggled as I spoke to him in English and one word of Arabic. I poking him gently in the shoulder and he giggled more. At one point the whole (or most) of the class was giggling. He did eventually cooperate. Great moment.

I am not sure if I even taught them the right words. But that is okay. I love the idea that a co-worker told when I first started working in schools as a Para, “Are the children safe and are they learning? If yes then don’t worry about the rest. It is not your job.” Lesson planning is not part of my Volunteer position, nor was it part of my Para duties.

NOTE: In the former sentence my co-worker defined safe as: the children feel emotionally as well as physically safe and are the children are actually physically safe.

This is my second week at my schools. I will post more updates about my experiences when I can. And I will do better about posting pictures.

Une Conversation avec une Religieuse de la Descendance Afrique

Le soir samedi, nous sommes allés à l’abbaye dans Gosh. Nous sommes allés au service religieux qui s’appelle Vespers. Les religieuse et les moines ont chanté magnifiquement. Après le service, j’ai parlé avec une Religieuse de la Descendance Afrique. C’était plesant que nous avons parlé en français. Ma compréhension à l’audition est terrible maintenant! Je dois faire quelque-chose. Elle était très patient. Elle a répété les mots et les phrases un et deux fois. Après ca, j’ai compris.

Je m’ennuie de la langue français. Rarement, j’ecoute la langue et je trouve quelqu’en qui peux parler avec moi, en français. C’est difficult parce que maintenant je veux apprendre l’arabe. Touts mes craintes de parle français ont disparu. Solement mes craintes de parle l’arabe sont ici.

Pardon my french. Message me if you want a short run down of what I said above.

The Hills are Alive with the Sounds of Exhaustion

Wednesday past, I walked in the afternoon sun across dusty roads, up steep streets, and with cars zipping past. In places there was no sidewalk. In other places the sidewalks were cracked, bumpy messes covered in glass and trash. I was walking to Bab aSouca. I took a service to Bab aDeer. A service to Bab es Kak. Then a bus to Checkpoint 300. Then I got off at the Damascus gate stop; the last stop on the Bus 21 line heading towards Damascus Gate. 1 hour 40 min of transit.

As a group we waited for everyone to arrive. Then we collectively got on the 75BUs to head to Augusta Victoria. 30 minutes (transit plus 10 mins of wait time).

2 hour 10min to get to the LWF meeting. The meeting is particularly important to many people because the dominate shared language is English. And many of the internationals that gather at this weekly pot luck are American.

And that is kinda how transportation will go for me for the year. When I am traveling in the West Bank. When I am traveling around the old city and around Jerusalem. Simply put, lots of walking. Lots of hills and some public transit to connected me to my destinations (depends on if I am in the West Bank of in Jerusalem).

Either way. Hills. I’m going to have quads of steel.

Family Fun

Last night I went over to my host family’s flat. In short it was awesome.

I was probably there 3.5 to 4 hours. Just spending time with the family.

I taught Lina how to play Palace (a card game I am found of). She won. She called it a lite game.

And she taught me how to play a game called Saaba. She called this a concentration game. Saaba means seven in Arabic. (the “aa” pattern is how I tranliterate the sound that you make a doctor tells you to open you mouth and say “ah”, it is a common way to spell this sound). Saaba is similar to rumi or Rumi 300. But you can take from other people’s sets and runs to create new ones for them and yourself. The point of the game is to get rid of all your cards. There is no score keeping for cards laid down. And on each turn you can change/rearrange as many cards as you need in order to get your cards out of your hand. You turn ends when you cannot continue rearranging/swopping cards on the table. So awesome! And way harder that it would seem. She kicked my butt. After she won, I showed her my remaining cards and she told me that I had cards that all could have been placed on the table. It required me to rearrange five or six cards into different sets and runs and add my cards, in order to get ride of my cards. I hope she is willing to play with me again. Despite not being the strongest adversary.

And I also enjoyed my time talking with Abeer, Hanna, Gina and Fadi. More post about my other host family members to come.

A Shekel Well Spent

I am learning Arabic because I am here at the invitation of the ELCJHL (Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jordan and the Holy Land), and the majority of its members speak Arabic.

Today was my first full day, on my own. On the Agenda, I had: grocery shopping, pants shopping (three pairs of summer pants for 7 days was not working for me), find my local clinic, get to the closer of two schools I will volunteer at, call Jessie, Call mom and eat three meals.

I called Jessie’s cell via Skype this morning. Which was only somewhat successful. Because I slept in today (I woke up at 8am local time, instead of 6am) it was like 1am her time. Yikes. Your awesome friend and sorry.

Not thinking this one through, I decided 10:30 was a great time to set out on walking the streets to shop and find local services. Grocery shopping was successful; so was pants shopping and getting to one of my volunteer schools. I also found my local clinic; it is conveniently located across the street from the closest hospital. I began my journey home around 1pm.

Walking down the hill towards my flat, I realized that I was quite thirsty. Now, in the States, not such a big deal get some water in a store or just go into the air conditioning. But I knew it was not a good idea to walk home in such a state. I looked for a place to buy something to drink.

I bought a juice box. I chatted with the store keeper. He had good English and entertained my attempt to speak my limited Arabic words to him. He smiled at me when I told him where I was living (it is actually, a good idea for people in your neighborhood to know where you live because they will look out for you) and that I will be in the area for almost a year. That conversation was at the most five minutes long but I felt comfortable. For the first time since being here. I was not self-conscious, spoke confidently with the phrases I know and met a nice man. It was like sipping joy.

That juice box cost a shekel. It is somewhere between 29 to 33 cents (USD). And it was the best spent shekel as of yet.

This is the city Jerusalem. You can tell it’s the city of Jerusalem because of the way it is.

I am here, in Jerusalem. Yay! Finally.

Got here Tue night (7pm local time). It is now Thur 12:30pm local time. So I have been here for two days. We toured the Old City Wed. Started to get familiar with the road the landmarks near my coordinators house and in general. I know where Damascus Gate is in relation to my coordinator’s flat. Anyway, you probably just want to see pictures. I will post them soon.

Today we had a short intro to Israeli prospective. It was one of the best tours that I have ever had in my life. And it was like six places we went. Aviv was very intensional and methodical in his approach. There was space to discuss and grapple with local perspectives and politics. And it was nice to hear one Israeli perspective; up until now I have mostly only heard various Palestinian perspectives.

One way that this group (the other volunteers plus the coordinators) have bounded is through sharing YouTube videos. Sheldon shared the “Neature Walk” videos with us. We thought they were hilarious. Please note these videos are suppose to make fun of nature shows and be ridiculous. The name of this post comes from one of these videos. See link below.

This title is also true to how I am shaping my understanding of this city. This city is Holy and sacred and contested because it is Holy and Sacred to many and has been contested and fought over through much of its time of existence. And it has been exciting discovering the unique elements of Jerusalem that make it the only city of its kind in the whole world.

“You can tell this is an Aspen because of the way it is.” Time stamp — 1:19 – 1:17
Neature Walk — Episode 1

Walk with me as I walk to NEW old places