As most of you are aware, the move to Israel was a bit harder for me than for Adam. While leaving family was a great part of the sadness of moving, that sadness does affect both of us, and to be honest the technology has made the distance feel much less than we thought. I video chat with my parents almost everyday. I video chat with my brothers and their families about once a week, and I call my grandmother every two or three days. Adam video chats or talks on the phone with his Dad every day or two, and he has been in touch with friends and extended family as well. We have even attended two birthday parties through Facetime! And of course, everyone is reading our blog. 🙂
The real struggle lies in my lack of employment. This move for Adam was a natural progression in his career path, while it has brought mine to a screeching halt. The main barrier is the language. While I can and will take Ulpan classes to improve my Hebrew skills, it will take years before I have the vocabulary to teach. Plus, Physics terms in Hebrew aren’t just English cognates. Instead, there is an entirely different vocabulary I would have to learn, which would take even more time. We are only here for two years, so it doesn’t seem worth the time and effort. There are a number of schools here that teach in English. I have sent my resume to them, but there doesn’t seem to be any vacancies. The Jerusalem American International School will allow be to substitute and get on their tutoring list, but I have to wait until I get my work visa. We made an appointment with the Ministry of the Interior, but the earliest available date is December 13th.
Things look a bit bleak for me huh? That’s what I thought, and to be honest, this lack of employment made me quite mopey for quite a few days. I felt like I had no purpose in life. I know everyone thinks I take my job too seriously, but I love my job, and it is very much a part of my identity. It also doesn’t help that the first question people ask me when they hear about this Fulbright adventure (and I mean everyone in the US and in Israel), “So what are you going to be doing?” I typically answer shamefully that I am a high school science teacher who can’t teach here because I don’t have enough Hebrew. It is soul crushing to have to openly admit that you have very few useful skills in the country you are going to be living in for the next two years. Adam hates when I say that, and maybe he is right that it isn’t true, but it sure does feel like it when people ask.
As you all know, I’m not very good at sitting around doing nothing, so besides those mopey days where I slept a lot, I have tried many ways to find ways to make a little money and fill my days with something purposeful. I posted as a math and science tutor on Janglo, which is a site geared toward English speakers in Israel (often referred to as Anglos). I also posted my services as a crocheter. There have been a lot of hits on my ads, and I have gotten two inquiries, but both led no where. I have also applied to a number of remote jobs in the United States. Most of them were for online tutoring. I have heard nothing, so that seems to be a “no go” as well.
Doesn’t seem to be getting better right? It does, I promise. This week it feels like it started to pour with opportunities, which was amazingly timed since it actually rained for more than 5 minutes this week. I may have mentioned this in a previous post, but I found a babysitting job on Janglo a few weeks ago. I met with the woman who posted the job (Esther), and it was a really good meeting. The position is going to be 3 times a week for a 3 year-old and a 3-month old for about 2 hours starting in January when Esther finishes her maternity leave. Since they are in the process of moving, she said they may need me here and there to give them more time to focus on setting up their new home. Plus, they want the 3-year-old to get use to me picking him up from his gan (preschool). Esther contacted me this week, and today I got to play with the 3-month old baby while she did some set-up in the apartment and got some sleep. She is a doctor and was on call all night. I was glad to provide the peace of mind she needed to get some real rest. It turns out the baby feel asleep while she was sleeping. It was very peaceful. Esther and her husband are wonderful people, and Yishai (the baby) and Matan are absolutely adorable. I look forward to more time with the kids in the future!
There’s more too! Monday I was sent a link to a fellowship opportunity by a fellow Fulbrighter that she thought might be something I am interested in. While I’m still looking into whether or not it would be a good fit for me, the link motivated me to search for internships and other opportunities involving the environment. After all, I am not just a teacher, I have a degree in Environmental Science, Geology, and Environmental Education. I can do more than teach! I found a website of various environmental organizations in Israel, and after reading about each one, I decided to contact one of them who had a link for volunteers. Why not? We knew that working for me here would be sporadic, so me volunteering won’t wreck our budget. I e-mailed the organization and within a matter of minutes, I received a response from the Executive Director. I even talked with her on the phone Monday night and yesterday. She is very excited to have me help with their current project, and there is another student about my age in Jerusalem who also recently contacted her about volunteering. The three of us are going to meet on Monday to come up with plans on how we can help.
So here’s more information and a bit of advertising for the organization. 🙂 It is called Shomera. They started as a grassroots organization that has become a leader in the environmental field in Israel. Their current project has to do with grey water recycling on a national level. *Teachable Moment* For those of you who don’t know, grey water recycling is when you collect used water from domestic uses (such as showers), you treat it, and then use it for irrigation or flushing your toilets. I’m not sure if you know this, but the water that you use to flush your toilets is drinking quality water, which in my opinion is a waste. Why not use treated water to flush the dirty stuff down and leave the clean drinking water for more important things like drinking and cooking. Anyway, this project has been in the works for the last 5 years, and 2-3 days ago, the government gave Shomera the green light to pilot the technology in Ra’anana. What an exciting time to join the project! The executive director, Miriam, told me that there is a lot of PR work to be done such as updating the website, starting a Facebook page, writing educational pamphlets, etc. That’s where I come in. I am also going to be able to see some of the behind the scenes stuff like going to meetings with local officials, etc. I’m so excited to have this opportunity. If you want to learn more, visit Shomera’s website at:
There is an English button so you can see things in English. If your not impressed with the website, don’t worry. It will be getting a facelift shortly. 🙂
As you can see, I have found meaningful ways to fill my time, while still maintaining the flexibility I need to stay in touch with family and tour Israel (after all we have to take advantage of being here). These are exciting opportunities that will enrich my life while I’m here and add to my experiences that will enrich my classroom when we return to the States.
What does this all mean? If you would like to ask me that wonderful question, “What are you doing during your time in Israel,” I can say proudly that I’m going to help an environmental organization push forward on a great water conservation initiative while taking care of some adorable children. And who knows what else the future may bring after December 13ths meeting with the Ministry of the Interior.
Until next time…