At the end of May, Fulbright hosted its final event for the 2012-2013 Fulbright scholars. As promised, the Fulbright program had activities each month; I unfortunately was unable to attend the programs in February, March, and April because of work. Therefore, it was really important that I made it to the last event since many of the Fulbright scholars are leaving in June and July.
The final event was a rather fancy dinner at the Ambassador’s house. It was not only in honor of the Fulbright scholars from America that were in Israel but also for the new group of Israeli scholars who will be spending next year in America. The dinner was in Herzliya Pituach, which is a little bit north of Tel Aviv. It was a little bit stressful getting there since we had to be there by 7 pm, and my final for my physics class ended at 4 pm. Long story short, we did get there on time. We actually ended up waiting around for a while before we went through security. After that we signed in at the guest book and then were formally received by the Ambassador’s wife and the Deputy Ambassador and his wife (who had hosted us for Thanksgiving dinner). Unfortunately, the Ambassador was unable to attend the dinner. John Kerry had arrived in Israel to work on peace talks, so the Ambassador was in Jerusalem while two hundred or so people were having dinner at his house. It was disappointing but oh well!
Once we passed the receiving line, we were ushered through the house to the back yard which was extremely large and had a beautiful view of the sea. People mingled for a while while they passed around glasses of wine and fancy h’ors d’oeuvres. We got to catch up with a few of our friends from Fulbright, but everyone was so spread out that it was difficult to talk to everyone. At some point, the Fulbright scholars were gathered for a picture. There were so many that not everyone is visible in the picture, but it was a nice sentiment. They probably should have divided everyone into groups (either Americans and Israelis or by discipline) to make it easier to get everyone in.
After the picture, we settled down for the dinner. They spread all the American Fulbrights out, so we weren’t sitting with anyone that we really knew. Amazingly however, the couple sitting next to us at our table are very close friends of the Rosensweigs. They are headed to Connecticut next year so we had plenty to chat about. They were really nice!
As we chatted, we were served a pretty fancy meal. Everyone enjoyed the food and there were a number of speeches scattered throughout the evening. One of our friends, Jesse, spoke about his time here in Israel, in honor of the American Fulbrights. It was a really good speech.
The evening came to a close at around 10:30. We said good bye to as many people as we could find, but everyone was scattered around the yard and anxious to head home themselves. On our way back through the house to leave we caught another glimpse of the Ambassador’s house. The dining room table was huge! Adam said it reminded him of something out of a story with the long tables at a castle meal; the one where the person at one end can barely see the people at the other. My first thought was about the number of dishes that would need to be washed. 🙂
Our journey home to Jerusalem was nothing eventful. We got home a bit late, so we pretty much got ready for bed as soon as we were home.
The evening was very nice, and we had a really good time. It was, however, a huge reminder that most of the people that we came to Israel with are now going back to the United States, which has stirred up a lot of emotions for us. Foremost, it is very hard to say goodbye to all the friends we have made through the Fulbright program. By the time I am writing this post, many have already left and many others are getting ready to go in the next week or two. We having been trying to see as many of them as we can before they go. We feel bad that we haven’t gotten to spend as much time with everyone over the last few months as we did in the beginning, but as we (and they) settled in, life became busy. We hope that the relationships that we have built will continue even though we are going to be separated. Once again, we are thankful for technology.
The most overwhelming emotion for me when it comes to everyone leaving, has been the longing to go home myself. Hearing about their packing process and their plans for the future has made me think about our own packing process and what is in store for us next. We still have 13 months here, and we are still very happy here, but when you hear about people going back to the states, it is hard not to imagine yourself going back as well. As we have continued our daily routines since the dinner, that longing has dulled once again. The reality is that we still do have 13 more months here, and we want to cherish every minute of it. We have met so many great people, and we hope to use the rest of our time here to get to know them on a deeper level. We have also developed collegial relationships that we want to expand, and there is still so much more exploring for us to do here. There is no doubt that I will be ready to go back to the US at the end of our time here, but until then, I expect that we will continue to be happy with our situation here in Israel.
Until next time…
Sorry that there aren’t too many pictures…we couldn’t take too many for security reasons.