PeacePlayers newest addition to the Middle East team, LaToya Fisher, shares some insight on her first month as a Fellow.
I can’t believe it’s already been a month since I first arrived in Israel! There have been some very memorable moments and lots of basketball. The day after my arrival I was fortunate enough to participate in a twinning and it was so amazing to see girls from two different communities coming together to learn about one another and play basketball. I was also very relieved and grateful at how welcoming they were towards me and interested in learning more about me and speaking with me. My favorite event so far was the WinterFest where children from all of the different schools we work with came together and got to do activities such as Kung Fu, juggling, coloring a mural, and a basketball obstacle course. The event allowed me to interact a lot with the kids and hang out and work with some of the coaches and PPI-ME participants that I see less often.
One thing that has been very interesting to me is the weather here versus Maryland. When I landed, it was after a snow storm and my roommate Heni told me that the snowfall was a big deal and people were driving to Jerusalem just to see it and the city had shut down for a while. What made this so interesting was that the snow was a light dusting (little accumulation) and something that would not disrupt things back home. Due to the snow that fell before I arrived, I also experienced some power issues, one of which was not having water…The day before I went to the main office to meet my other co-workers and boss. Luckily I hadn’t done any exercising the day before so I didn’t smell too badly! Thank goodness for bottled water and body spray. Overall I prefer this winter, where there have been days I could wear shorts, to winter in Maryland.
I am adjusting fairly well and the language barrier has not been a huge issue. Although, I will say that I have become even more aware of my surroundings and pay close attention to detail since I got lost when I first got here. About a week or so after I arrived, I was introduced to a shawarma place (amazing!) close to where I was staying and decided to get some food by myself to take back to the house. When I tried to find my way home I got terribly disoriented and wandered around for an hour. I finally found my way home with the help of a really nice stranger and ate my wonderful cold shawarma and chips (fries). It turns out I was literally around the corner from where I was staying. That was my first and last time getting lost and now I’m basically an expert!
So far Jerusalem has proved to be full of charm, diversity, and adventure. I feel like I’ve experienced a lot in just one month and can only imagine how this rest of this journey will go. There is so much history, opportunity, and beauty around me in this country and I can’t wait to take it all in and see what the future holds. Hopefully less shower-less nights and getting lost and more great food and basketball.