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!