Friday, January 30, 2015

Talmida tova

New picture at the top! Taken on my latest visit to Jerusalem.

So, what do I do here? A lot, right now. It's the last week of the semester and everything is crazy. Obviously, I should be writing this instead of being productive.

I wanted to write a little bit about my classes and daily life here. I'll start with the classes. Usually when I tell people that I'm studying the Holocaust, they wonder what type of classes that involves... Here's what that involved for our first semester!

The Final Solution: this was the main 'Holocaust' class for the semester. We studied the persecution and extermination of Jews in depth. I learned a lot. We had to write a few shorter papers and I have a 30 page seminar paper due in June. Yes, even though the class is ending this week. I'm going to write about the differences between the ways French Jews were treated v. immigrant Jews were treated that were living in France (Guess who the French police were willing to help deport?).

WWII: Class about the military history of WWII. It was kind of similar to the WWII history class I took at BYU- we even used the same textbook. For my final paper I'm researching Charles de Gaulle's relationship with Churchill and Roosevelt (Spoiler alert: they both hated him). 

Research Methods: Different lecturers from different fields (psychology, anthropology, all sorts of things...) came to talk to us about their disciplines, researching, and the Holocaust. Basically, I didn't really learn things in this class. Some of it was interesting, but not really that useful for me.

Research Forum: Like the last class, different people came every week. We heard from a few Holocaust survivors, some documentary movie directors, and an archeologist who is working on excavating the Sobibor concentration camp. This class was usually pretty interesting! 

German: I took a beginning German class. It was ridiculously easy but kind of fun. Most of the rest of my class is scared of our teacher, but I've had French it didn't phase me. Madame Thompson, anyone?

Yiddish: This class I audited and just did for fun. And it was!! It's a fun language, and where else could I learn it? I think I'll continue with it next semester.

That sums up the classes I took this semester. Some other things that keep me busy are an internship and a volunteer program.

My internship involves developing and teaching lessons about the Holocaust for a local school here in Haifa. Me and 5 other people from my program are each teaching a lesson. The kids are in 5th grade. We're in the lesson planning stage right now, and we'll start teaching in the spring. My lesson is about... you guessed it... France. I'm doing a lesson about Jewish children who had to pretend to be Christian and were sheltered by priests and nuns. This was pretty common in France. Yeah, I like France. Do you sense a theme in all of the projects I'm doing? It's nice to be able to choose things to research that I'm interested in. And cool to be able to put on my teaching resume that I've taught in two foreign countries!

Also as part of our program here, most of us volunteer with an organization called Amcha that helps Holocaust survivors. I go every week to visit with Cipi for about an hour. She's 80 years old and from the Czech Republic. It's always entertaining because she's full of energy. Usually we just talk about light-hearted things like fashion (she is a fashionista haha), but she's also started to tell me about her experiences during the war. Holocaust survivors won't be around for much longer- so this another cool and unique experience of being in Israel!

Currently, I'm doing a Hebrew Ulpan- which is an intensive Hebrew class. It feels so good to be learning Hebrew again! It's my favorite language après le français. Our class is 5 hours a day, 5 days a week for a month. We're already finished with the first week, and I already feel like I've learned a lot. One of the most interesting things is that out of our class of about 20 people, there are students from Sudan, South Africa, Iran, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, Germany, Sweden, Spain, Switzerland, England, France, Mexico, and Canada. I'm sure I'm forgetting someone. There's only one other person from the U.S. (and ps...she happens to be a Chicagoan who loves the Packers, what are the odds of that?).

I've been enjoying my time here so far! Actually, I'm not enjoying this week because I've been so busy with homework...but in general, yes! After this 1.5 month semester break, I have two more semesters and I'll be done at the end of August. 

Well this post wasn't so exciting and full of travel stories and pictures... but don't worry, I have some amazing travel plans coming up in less than a month! 

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