ColoRAD

I live in Denver, which is in Colorado. All the folks consider me pretty rad. I look like an Alex. My name is Alex.
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This is one in a series of entries about my recent trip to Israel. I was there from July 17-29, 2012; these entries are being posted a few weeks after the experience. Everything is transfered directly from my notebook and is only edited for grammar and spelling. All words that appear on the blog were written on the trip. More Israel entries are available here.

23 July 2012 — Sde Boker; Mikhmoret (the Mediterranean) 

Lots of bread and butter for breakfast. Shocking.

My notes on the crucial and meaningful morning experience at the educational panel in Sde Boker appear near the end of this spiral notepad. 

[Here they are. I wrote these notes on the bus immediately following our morning experience in Sde Boker.]

In seeing the three schoolteachers and their students—from way different communities—come through this place today, I am now sure as I have ever been (as in, this is the most sure I’ve ever been) that my path is laid. The school children represented a mix of Muslim, Jewish, private, public, poor, rich, and opinion on Israel, but all were so smart and gave such eloquent, but most important, thoughtful, answers about school and life in their community and country.

At the end of the third and final group (I got a photo), I was shaking as if I’d just drunk ten coffees in a row. It was a feeling I never wanted to lose and one I was absolutely sure will sustain me as long as I maintain a current truth that I came to fully appreciate today. 

On a walk with Will, the rabbi, after, we saw a quote on the ground in graffiti: “To be in the middle of water and be thirsty is to be a fool.”

I found, for certain, my water. My water is children and education—in reality, my water is a future for the poor and unlucky.

I would be a fool, as I consider what I want to do post-teaching, to not consider if it’s in the realm of my water. If it’s in the water, and I drink (try, take risks), I will not have been a fool. Many industries are in the water, not just teaching.

The other thing I realized is that I do not need to obsess about how to become a better teacher next year or in the future. Why? Because I care. I simply care about kids and their futures, individually and collectively. Caring means I will improve in process and content.

Caring means I will show up. Caring means I will build relationships and essential trust (as the mayor said yesterday was so crucial as advice for good teachers) with students and families that will help with education. Also, caring means: content plus education. True education is mentorship, relationships, trust, and content.

Will helped me make this moment clear, and part of my memory, on this special day. I hope the simplicity of these thoughts has come through.

Something that spurred (or might have, at least) this is that I moved near another REALITY member when I saw her crying. I patted her on the back for support and that was it. But ten minutes later, she entrusted me with a note. It was a request that I ask a question from her but not identify her, possibly because she was crying. While I asked the question, and prepared to, I began to shake with excitement. Her question—about helping people see they can when they think or have been told they can’t—was and is foundational to what TFA and my teaching is all about.

Afterward, we drove to the Mediterranean Sea to compete against other four facilitation groups. It was, of course, hot as hell, and the videography team from Schusterman Foundation was still there from prior day with us. We competed in four beach challenges:

  1. three-way dodgeball (literally “dodge the one ball”)
  2. logic game with boards of different values
  3. block race and building. Made it to nine floors with just twelve blocks—highest of all teams. “Ninth Floor” is now our second motto. Really brought team together, especially after Katie (team corps member, not leader) did some calculations in her head about the upper bounds of possibilities and we decided to go for it
  4. raft-building and race, to which I contributed a flag (actually, just several balloons and I put the flag on upside down…)

Sweaty, sandy, and over an hour late, we ate dinner with Teach First Israel. The most provocative thing to come from dinner was a just-finished-first-year 28-year-old Jewish Israeli woman said she believes Arab leaders purposely keep their communities down so as to look better in the eyes of the world when Israel comes to an end. Every person since, including those other Israelis at the table, roundly denounced that. I was asked to be filmed for a Schusterman video after three glasses of wine…

Kibbutz for bed… not.

Aaron’s friend and Birthright soldier came to meet us at our new, beautiful kibbutz in Maagan. He arrived with two bottles of Arak (Israeli licorice liquor), six big beers, and grapefruit juice to cut the Arak. It was crazy generous, so to celebrate, he, I, Annie and twelve or so others got drunk and played Minorities, a drinking game of binaries.

Elliot (a d-bag) at around 3 a.m. was kicked out by Annie (“Get the F*&K out of my HOUSE!”) because he was telling us all we didn’t actually know or hang out in our students’ neighborhoods. Good reminder that TFA doesn’t necessarily equal good dudes and chicks. Bed: 4 a.m.

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