Ladies and Gentlemen,
An announcement: Yesterday I moved from my dorm in Be'er Sheva to a student village in the outskirts of Yerucham! An explanation is of course in order. It's not that I wasn't having fun in Be'er Sheva, in fact, I was having a lot of fun and definitely getting used to dorm life there. But then this lil opportunity just fell right into my lap. Check it. A few days ago, my program hopped on a bus for an afternoon trip to Yerucham, a development town set up in the early 50's in the middle of nowhere (Negev desert, 35 minutes from Be'er Sheva) that never really quite developed. Organizations for years have been sending youngsters to Yerucham to liven it up. For example, I think Daniel spent a summer there in high school volunteering, the gap year program many of my friends attended, called Nativ, also sends people there every year for five months to volunteer.
Anyways, the purpose of this trip was to see what this Israeli student organization called Ayelim (which means Deer) was up to in the said town. Ayelim is a group that aims to settle areas of Israel that are not in the majorly populated (and de facto most developed) triangle of land in between Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Haifa. They feel that the future of the State of Israel lies in developing regions in the North and in the South, i.e. areas where there just is not a lot going on i.e. peripheries. Thus, they encourage students to go to underdeveloped areas in commuting range to their universities in comfortable, highly subsidized housing, and live there throughout their university careers. The idea is that the students living in these villages will work to build up their living areas, volunteer in their respective nearby towns, and develop an attachment to their new homes and regions. After university, Ayelim helps them find jobs with their freshly minted degrees in the areas, and encourages the students to move there permanently, which thereby helps the towns develop further and bring in new job opportunities and even just new blood and energy to otherwise stagnant areas.
So we get a tour of this village. It was built last year, and houses 24 Israeli uni students all at Ben Gurion (conmigo) as well as 8 post high school teens who are doing a year of volunteer service before their compulsory military conscription. These people are right up my alley. We're talking chillmaster, idealistic, modern day Zionist dudes and ladies. Again, where I'm trying to be. We're walking around, and a girl named Tali who just got to Israel and is on our program starts unloading her bags and moving them into one of the 12 dope caravans. Tali has worked it out with the OSP program director ahead of time, and she'll be living here for the semester! Many of us kind of did a double take--there was sort of a jealous thing going on, sort of like a lil 'well how the hell did she hear about this place but we didn't?' Which is exactly why I went to my director's office the next morning and met with him. I called him out: "You know, I bet you if you had made this opportunity clear on the website or on the application or SOMETHING, a lot of people would probably have chosen to live there." So he was like, 'Well, are you interested?' Ummm. Was he being serious with me? "Yeah, very." And two days later I packed my bags and moved in!
To sum, Josh will also move in on Sunday so Tali, Josh, and I will fill the last available caravan and live there for the rest of the semester. I spent one night there (I am writing to you now in Jerusalem at my brother's), and I already love it. The people I met are awesome. I have a nice room, the shower is legit, wireless internet (strong enough to have a legit skype convo with both JMH via chat and Jody with video last night) is solid, and the crew seems to be awesome. The free buses offered from the village directly to Ben Gurion's campus back in Be'er Sheva are at 8am and 10am. The free buses back are at 6:15pm and 8:15pm. Otherwise there are buses from the central bus station throughout the day till 11pm. And if I wanna go out drinking in Be'er Sheva, a couple of friends are making me copies of their dorm keys and a real good friend of mine from camp, Dvir, who is at med school at BGU, also has opened the doors to his apartment.
Ok, this has been a long post.
Last thing. My parents, sisters, bro in-law, Grandma Honi, and ma's friend are all here visiting. Grandma Honi lives in Jersey, and my other Grandma, Tziporah, lives in Jerusalem. It's just really cool to be rolling with both Gma's in Israel at the same time.
Ok, Shabbat Shalom