…and it begins…

So we are here. Well, right now I am at my dad’s house, but we are officially enrolled and participating in the ULPAN program at kibbutz Ein Hashofet. We made the move Sunday morning around 9 and dad and Simi took us. We arrive by making an entrance that only Paris and Nicole would make. Our dad drives into the kibbutz and all on the sidewalk to get us as close as possible to our room, because of course we brought like 5 suitcases, tons of bedding and pillows from our savta’s house and so many bags of food and other supplies- it was almost embarrassing how much stuff we brought with us. We get out and it hits me, no turning back now. We haul our stuff to our room, making at least 4 trips from the car, while passing other fellow Ulpanists who I will later describe. We had seen our room initially when we came to meet with Elka, the director of the Ulpan program at this kibbutz, last Thursday, but now it was more depressing than ever. Picture a tiny dorm room with hospital white walls with holes in them from previous occupants, 2 twin size beds on either side of the room with a lonely green desk separating them. I let out the biggest sigh ever as my eyes filled with tears but I choked them back to be strong, I mean, really- I put myself in this position so I had to deal with it. So first things first, we said bye to dad and Simi and began unpacking and decorating. During one of the trips we made from the car to the room we met Rivka, an 18 year-old girl from Philidelphia and Z’ev from Toronto, Canada and they had informed us that we were to meet everyone in front of the classroom, which is right acroos from our “unit” at 11, it was 10. We did as much as we could to our pathetic room and then met everyone at 11 where the Hebrew teachers conducted individual interviews to determine which Hebrew class to place each student. I was placed in Kitah Bet (Class B), which is the more advanced of the two because I can understand and sort of read and write, and they asked Mirelle to go to Kitah Alef (A) and Bet (B) for the first week so they could see which one she would fit into most. After that was over we socialized and found out where everyone was from and what they were doing there…there are people from all over, San Francisco, Texas, Japan, New Mexico, Argentina, France…really makes for funny people. Anyways, so we continued to organize our room and put our belongings up until 3, when we had to meet everyone again in a meeting room by the dining hall for a tour and to go over guidelines and expectations. So everything went well and in this meeting we were designated jobs. Mirelle will be working with kids in the nursery starting next week and I was told I would work in the laundry room. Whatever. So after the tour and stuff we hung out and “stooped,” hanging out on people’s porchs, until we were tired and then went to bed.

So the Ulpan program consists of working 3 days a week and going to Hebrew class 3 days a week, my school days since I’m in Kitah Bet are Sunday, Tues and Thur and my work days are Mon, Wed, Fri. For Kitah Alef it’s the opposite, work Sun, Tues, Thur and school Mon, Wed, Fri. So Monday morning…I go to the Ulpan office and see Elka and she tells me that they dont need anyone to work in the laundry room and that there has been a mistake and I am to work in the factory. I had been expecting to work in the factory all along because that’s what this kibbutz is known for is it’s 2 factories, but was kind of like Ugh. So she hands me work boots, navy cargo pants with half an elastic waist and a black shirt. Im like NOOOOO. I go change in my room choking back tears once more from mere shock of the situation and go back ot her office and her assistant Locha leads the way for me and this guy Shay, who is also from Dallas. Ironic? (There’s also a girl here that graudated from UT!! Small World) Anyways, so we walk to Mivrag, the name of the factory I work at, and I am just overwhelmed, theres so much machinery and there are loud noises and its just seems intimidating and scary. We go in and meet the boss man, Adrian, and his assistant, Shlomo, and immediatly begin working. No explanation of what is expected of you, or filling out paperwork or like background or anything. I didnt know what the hell was going on, I was just basically put in front of a task and was told to do it, I mean they explained to me what to do but not why or anything about the factory at all. So now I know. I am working at the factory on the kibbutz that makes and manufactures nails, screws, bolts and things of that sort and I am in the packaging unit. So I basically am taping boxes and moving nails and screws from big metal containers to small cardboard boxes for them to be shipped out. It’s really boring work, mind numbing at times, but thanks to Chris I have an iPod and am listening to that thing all day! The good side to this job is that this factory is actually closed on Fridays so I only have to work 2 days a week. I did the math- 2 times 4 weeks in a month= 8 times 5 months= 40. Only 40 times to work. And I’ve already been twice, so now only 38. haha! Anyways, I went to Hebrew class on Tuesday and enjoyed it. We mosltly spoke and wrote and read out loud and I feel like I am on par with the others in the class. Most of the other people in my class, or in the ulpan program in general know Hebrew because they took it in school in America. Everyone is always to interested to hear about my living here for 2 years during elementary. Its funny how much I am remembering just because of how intensely I learned Hebrew during that time.

So, yeah. That’s about it. It’s now 11:15 pm and we have to be up at 6:15 to go back to the kibbutz, I have my 2nd day of Hebrew class tomorrow…so much more to write but it will have to be in the next post.

And Janae, (shoutout!-haha) A kibbutz is like a form of communal living. There are permanite (sp) residents that live on kibbutzim (plural of kibbutz) and there are always volunteers who are basically young people who are traveling around countries and need a place to stay for a while so they give them work and pay them some money. But at a kibbutz there is like everything you need (if your living style is very basic), a library, dining hall, pub, grocery store, laundry room, schools, factories for working, medical center, bus stop, pool, tennis courts, basketball courts, cows, agriculture like avacados and fruit…hope that helps!


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