Beit Sahour

After a short nap this afternoon, I was ready to head out to Beit Sahour. Maggie, another Ultimate Peace coach, met up with Nathan and I and we walked 5 blocks to a nearby bus station and quickly found the bus we were looking for. About an hour later we stepped off in Jerusalem. Maggie played a bit of phone-tag with Karym while we tried to figure out the best meeting spot. While waiting, I picked up a sim card and got my cell phone to work. Yay! Shortly after, we connecte with Karym and drove 15 minutes to the checkpoint into Bethlehem.

Before crossing over we connected with the other half of the group going to the clinic, who proceeded to go through the checkpoint on foot. We drove through, and met up again with the group, who found a taxi and continued the rest of the way with us to Beit Sahour. On the way we passed through Bethlehem, and had a great view of the surrounding area. About 10 minutes later we arrived at the school and found the small field, populated with about 25 kids waiting there for us.

On the drive into the clinic I found out that Hamouda, one of my Black Ice club team players, was going to be at the clinic, helping to translate. Needless to say I was super excited to see Hamouda! Right as we found the field, I immediately saw Hamouda and we chatted a bit about the last few months. Soon after, we met the kids. They had come in from the area around Beit Sahour, and Hamouda had brought a group of kids in from Bethlehem. Many of the Beit Sahour kids were quite experienced, and almost all of the Bethlehem kids had never thrown a disc before.

We started off by having all the kids pair up and start throwing. I worked with a Arash, a 14 year old from Bethlehem. It was amazing how quickly he picked up how to throw a forehand and a backhand. He was laser focused on what I was showing him. Fantastic stuff. We then transitioned to a 20 minute round of a go-to drill. We started off with backhands then transitioned for forehands. Next, we moved through a weave drill, and then some dump-swing practice. We then capped off the session with some “It’s up!” and finished up with a cheer of “Bethlehem and Beit Sahour!”. We then lounged around for a bit talking more with the kids and snapping some group pictures. Out on the road we waited for a taxi and had some more time to talk to the Bethlehem kids. I got to talk with Hamouda some more and we made plans to connect later in the week.

After clearing the checkpoint out into Israel, we found a great pasta place for dinner. I had a great time getting to know the other UP coaches and learning their stories. After dinner Kasym drove Maggie, Nathan, and I to the bus station where we quickly found our bus and an hour later made it back to Tel Aviv. We short cab ride later I made it back to Chelsea’s apartment.

Tomorrow Maggie, Nathan, and I are going to head out into Tel Aviv to explore. The goal is to walk the beach, see a bunch of Yafo (southern Tel Aviv), and then there is my own personal goal to eat as much as possible ;) I’m also aiming to head back to Bethlehem to spend some time with Hamouda and his family, something I am greatly looking forward to.

What a wonderful first day in Israel!

My journey to Tel Aviv

First off, thank you so much for all of your donations towards my work with Ultimate Peace! As of this afternoon I’ve raised a total of $2,775! My goal has been to raise $5,000 by the first 6/21 deadline, but that may prove to be a little overly ambitious. That being said, the summer fundraising window run until the end of August, so I’m hoping I can pull in my target amount before then. Thanks again for all of your support!

As for my travels…

On Wednesday afternoon, after 4 days of intensive packing, I left St. Johnsbury and headed south to my parents’ farm in Leverett, MA. As usual, the drive was quick, propelled by several podcasts, and the mopey looks of my two dogs in the back. On the way down I found out that Caleb’s first round Little League playoff game has been rescheduled to Saturday morning, so I wouldn’t be able to see him play! Instead of an evening at the ball park, we had a great family dinner at the home, and then Caleb and I went to a late movie. It was a grand evening.

On Thursday, I managed to sleep in past 9am for the first time in several months, which felt great. By 10:30 I was in Amherst, enjoying a nice pastry at my father’s Deli while getting some work done on Ultimate Peace and other summer projects. Also, school work never really, truly ends for the summer. At 1:30 I met up with my mother for a fantastic lunch at Panda East, my all-time favorite Chinese Restaurant. After lunch, Caleb joined me at the Sheep, and we had a fun couple hours at two local book stores. By 5:45 we were back at the Sheep where Caleb picked up his fancy graduation clothes. A short drive later, we were both over at Valentine Hall at Amherst College for his graduation from the Common School!

The graduation was utterly fantastic! Each graduate made a poster representing the most important things in the life. Here’s Caleb’s:

The core of the ceremony comprised of Caleb’s teachers reading a statement covering their thoughts of each student, followed by each student giving a speech about something they learned while at the Common School. All of the speeches were absolutely wonderful. Here’s some video from the event, including the speech about Caleb, and the one he gave:

After all the speeches, there was a bunch of dancing. Way cool.

Photos from the event are online right here.

On Friday, I picked Caleb up after his last (half) day of school, which was mainly made up of a large all-school water fight. We then headed into Hadley to run some errands, and then back to the Sheep to connect with Dad. After collecting a few more items for my trip, I said goodbye to my father and to Caleb, and drove into the city to connect with my other two siblings. In Boston, a big group of us ended up at a friend of a friend’s house for a really awesome cookout dinner he was putting together as a demo tape for a cooking show he was competing for a spot on. I got to catch up with some friends I hadn’t seen in a while, and have what I think was my first bison burger. Good stuff. By 11pm I made it to my brother Jesse’s house, and immediately crashed.

By 5:45am the next morning Jesse and I were on the road to Logan. With no traffic the drive was easy, but then I forgot that my first leg was on American, and ended up at the wrong Terminal. After another round of getting to the wrong place (you’d think I would figure all this out better after all my traveling), I got through security quickly and had a bit of time to rest at the gate. While waiting for my flight, I received a great book recommendation (Ready Player One by Ernest Cline) from my school’s librarian, and I immediately dove in. I ended up cruising through the book and finished it shortly before touching down in Tel Aviv. If you in any way like 80’s pop culture, and/or video/tech, you’ll love the book. Heck, you might even like it without liking either of those things. Any book that references Sneakers is 100% awesome in my world ;)

The flight from Boston to London was smooth and I managed to sleep most of the way. In London, I followed a very well labeled path to my new terminal and gate, and soon found myself in the El Al security line. I had a nice conversation with a couple security agents, and then my bag was quite thoroughly searched. After pulling out a third camera from my carry on, the agent exclaimed that I must be “one good blogger”. (We had already chatted about my travel blog posts.) On the next leg of the flight I screamed through the rest of Ready Player One and got more excited about all of the events that are coming up in the next few weeks.

After touching down shortly before 5:45am local time on 6/17, I flew through the rest of the transport process. My checked bag showed up immediately, and there were barely any lines at all at customs or at the passport control desk. Out in the terminal I changed some money, found the train station, and right before 7am I boarded a train for Tel Aviv, guided by Chelsea’s great directions. At the proper Tel Aviv stop, I found the right bus, and by 7:45am I made it to the right apartment building. Go me!

I’m now comfortable ensconced at a fellow Ultimate Peace coache’s apartment (Chelsea’s). I’ve met up with a third Ultimate Peace volunteer, Nathan, and we are going go head out into the city a little later today to get food and sim cards.

In the mid-afternoon we’ll be connecting with a group heading to Bethlehem to run a mini-clinic.

I can’t wait!

Here’s the view from the balcony of the apartment I’m staying in:

Off to explore I go!

Spring into Summer

Busy times indeed.

Thanks to the generosity of many people, I have now raised $2,050 towards my goal of raising $5,000 by 6/21. Thank you so much everyone! If you’d like to make a donation, you can do so online right here. If you do make a donation on my behalf, please put down my name on the online donation form where it says “in support of”. Donations are tax deductible.

On Wednesday (5/30), we held the Last Practice of the season. The session was dominated by “Disc Olympics”, a competition comprised of many events involving running, throwing for distance, and throwing for accuracy. At the end of the event each player finished with a certain number of points, which earned them a certain spot in line for choosing which item of free schwag they’d get to take home. (This is how I get rid of lots of gear I accumulate over the course of the year.) Photos of the event are online right here. Needless to say, we had a great time:

On Thursday, St. Johnsbury Academy held their last classes, and then followed them up that evening with the Prom at the famous Mt. Washington Hotel! For the fourth year in a row I took the official Prom photos. As usual I had an absolute blast and the kids were phenomenal!

On Saturday, I headed down to Boston to run the first of two BUDA Youth Club Championship tryout sessions. 3 StJA players came down to the tryout, and overall 33 kids attended. We ran through many drills, scrimmaged, and timed the kids on two running sets. The competition was strong and the kids played very well, despite the very wet conditions.

On Sunday morning I caught the StJA Ultimate bus at 5am and after a small hiccup of waking up a few sleepy players, we were on the road headed south to the Coed NE Champs in Somers, CT. On the bus was the St. Johnsbury Academy X team: 18 total players from all three StJA teams. The NE Champs is a decently competitive event that’s a bunch of fun. It has been the last tournament we have gone to for the past 8 years, and we have always brought a mixed team spanning all three StJA teams. The weather ended up being fantastic, and the kids played very well going 3-2 and finishing 5th out of 8 teams.

The future of StJA Ultimate in action!

On Monday, several thousand people converged onto the StJA campus for graduation. The faculty lined up inside due to the rain, and as usual, stuffed candy into the long sleeves of our graduation robes. Spearmint candy will always be my go-to graduation candy. The faculty then walked into the gym, through double rows of graduating seniors, and then we continued into the Field House. After the procession of graduates, the ceremony began. We heard several great speeches, and then moved onto the awards portion of the afternoon. The largest student award is the Headmaster’s Prize, which is given each year to one graduating girl and one graduating boy. This year, the award went to two Ultimate players: Ava Schein and Eric Rauert! Wonderful! Then, to cap off an already surreal day, I was awarded the Laudamus Verum Magistrum (Teacher of the Year) Award! Wow! What a day! Video of the graduation ceremony is online right here.

Coach Seamon and Captain Ava Schein!

After the graduation ceremony and a trip down to a glorious graduation celebration in Lyme, NH, I headed back home to get a bit of sleep before the next big event… the yearly End of Season Potluck.

2012 Yearbook (25mb, PDF)

My day started at 6am with a trip to D&D. I went about 8 years with no coffee, but this is the year that got me back into the caffeinated swing of things! By 6:30am I was in my classroom, doing my yearly battle with a binding machine, a copier, and a whole lot of hole punching. With the help of my glorious assistants, Coach Heller and Coach Stafford, 50 copies of the 2012 STJ Ultimate Yearbook were built, just in time for speech and award time. You can grab your own PDF copy of the yearbook right here. (25mb, PDF)

The 2012 End of Season Potluck started at 3pm with the kids gathering for an hour of social time. Scrimmaging started on Stowe Green and several StJA Ultimate Alums mixed into the action. We started cooking by 5 and about 45 minutes later we started eating our way through a huge potluck buffet! By a little after 6pm, the core event started: gift giving and speeches. Every player gave a speech and gift to another player. After each individual gift was given, players and parents were given the floor for more gift giving and speeches. During this portion of the night I was given a framed picture of the 2012 Open Division State Champs — US! — signed by all the players.

Next, it was my turn. I unloaded three boxes worth of yearbooks and awards. I led off, as I always do, with reading “This Year in Ultimate”. After my intro, Coaches Stafford, Heller, and Davis read their sections of the letter. I then finished it up and moved onto the Superlatives and major awards. After saying everything that could be said, the yearbooks were given out and the kids then spent the next 2+ hours in small groups signing each other’s signature pages. The kids drifted out into the night, and by 10:30, all the coaches had done home.

End of Season Potluck photos:

 End of Season Potluck video:

A few teacher work days, a teacher fun day at Waterford Springs, and a weekend retreat in Stowe away from it all… brings me to today.

I have almost all of my packing done for Israel. I’m mainly now in the mode of going over lots and lots of lists to make sure I remember everything I need to bring and get done before I leave. I’m feeling pretty good about the state of things.

I have a couple more days of house work and travel prep here in St. Johnsbury before I head south for a few days home with the family in Western, MA. Amherst Little League playoffs begin on Wednesday, and then Caleb graduates from Elementary School on Thursday! On Friday I’m heading out to Boston to spend the night with my brother Jesse, and then at 9am on Saturday, my flight takes off for Israel!

Many miles have been traveled. Many more lay ahead.