This whole blogging thing is turning out to be kind of exciting. I find myself getting the same rush from a "new comment" notification as from a wallpost on Facebook. If I had known that would be the case, I would have embraced this years ago.
The past few days have been pretty eventful. Three days ago, President Sebastian Pinera (the very same Pinera of the Chilean Miners fiasco fame) visited Aida. Shop fronts were repainted, the Chilean flag was hung from the streets, and my Spanish was suddenly more important than my Arabic as Alrowwad Center prepared to greet him. The children put on a Dabka show for him, his wife, and about 25 of his closest travelling buddies. The Chilean TV reporters were pretty fascinated by the women wearing the headscarves and seemed to only film them. Which did not go unnoticed by the women themselves. After the show, Pinera spoke (in English) about the beauty that outweighs the ugliness in Palestine, and called for an end to the Occupation. All in all, the event was lovely but pretty quick, considering the preparation that went into it. The kids who danced, many of whom are my English students, seemed thoroughly unimpressed by their audience. Perhaps not so shocking considering they've performed for the Pope.
Two days ago, I was invited to the home of one of the Kindergarten teachers. She lives in one of the higher buildings in Aida camp, which is a three story apartment building. A lovely home, with an incredible view of the camp, the wall, and beyond. While we were enjoying the view, a few fireworks went off below us, and music began blasting from one of the houses. The son of the family living in the home was returning from an Israeli prison after three and a half years. He was first arrested when he was 16 years old, and was held without ever having a trial. This is the case for most of the Palestinian children arrested.
Later, over a cup of coffee, and while looking at wedding photos, I learned that one of the reasons the building was so nice now was because it was recently rebuilt. During the Second Intifada, the Israeli Army occupied the apartment building. The aforementioned incredible view was an asset to them, and all of the families living in the apartment building (42 people) were forced into one flat on the first floor for 15 days, and then again later for 40 days. Once the Army was done with the building, they shelled it.
I also learned that many Arab countries have banned Arabic Al Jazeera. Many people can still find it, but its usual channel has been cut off, and you have to constantly search for it. (Much like PotterWatch...) The thought behind this is that Al Jazeera is riling people up, and increasing these "days of rage."
At the risk of giving you whiplash, here are the other things that have happend over the past few days: a staff member turned 24 and we gave her a ridiculously lovely surprise party on the top of a mountain in Beit Sahour. I finally have roomates. My kindergarten students know that in the "summer" the weather is "hot hot hot." My older students have learned how to say "evil magic" and "dwarves" thanks to an abridged version of Snow White. And I got a truly horrible manicure from a five year old.
At least five different people have warned me to be careful because it might snow tomorrow.