The Crane Project

Would you like me to fold your message or prayer into the Western Wall in Jerusalem?

Cranes-Pano

This summer I’ll be returning to the Middle East to work at Camp Ultimate Peace. Before camp begins, I’ll be settling in for a full day of crane folding in the plaza in front of the Western Wall, located in the center of the Old City in Jerusalem. My plan is to start folding on the morning of Thursday, 7/16 and to continue until sundown. The next day I’ll be traveling to Hebron to the plaza outside the Cave of the Patriarchs to do the same thing. On the third day I will be continuing to fold in Bethlehem outside the Church of the Nativity. My plan is to fold 1,000 cranes over the course of the three days and place them all in the Western Wall.

My hope is for all 1,000 cranes to be folded out of paper containing messages and prayers.

Over the past 70 years 1,000 paper cranes has come to symbolize peace, hope, healing, love, and a wish… five things that I hope to bring to the region with my work with Ultimate Peace.

I would be honored to bring your messages and prayers to the Western Wall. If that’s something you’d like me to do, feel free to write as many messages or prayers on as many square pieces of paper as you’d like and mail them to me at 183 Main St. #1, Easthampton, MA 01027. They need to arrive in Easthampton by Monday, 6/29.

I’d also love to have company while I fold. Let me know if you’d like to join me at any of the folding venues.

What is UP?

As I continued my work with Ultimate Peace, I get to see glorious answers to the question, “What is Ultimate Peace?” As part of the coaches application process, I asked the coaches to summarize UP in just three words. Here’s what they came up with.

[The larger the word, the more often it came up.]

UP-3-Word-Cloud-Peace-cropped UP-3-Word-Cloud-cropped

 

Camp Ultimate Peace 2015 here we come!

All is well!

Ultimate Peace Camp 2014 is flying along in a torrent of absolute awesomeness. There have been challenges, and many hours of work, but the kids are having a blast and so are the coaches. I am hoping to have a detailed blog post up in the next few days. Until then, you can check out tons of what’s been going on in these places: UP BlogFacebook, Twitter, YouTube.

You can also check out my FB photo stream right here.

Here are some of my favorite media posts so far:

Identities, Realities, and Truths (Blog Post)
The Blues Brothers (Blog Post)

Kung Fu Pandas

Kung Fu Pandas

24 hours to go!

The view from the roof of the Austrian Hospice in the Old City of Jerusalem.

The view from the roof of the Austrian Hospice in the Old City of Jerusalem.

In about 10 minutes I’ll be driving down to camp from the West Bank. I have been here for the past two days meeting new Ultimate Peace friends and further absorbing the region. There really isn’t any place like the Old City of Jerusalem!

Camp starts getting into full swing tomorrow with the arrival of all of the coaches. Tomorrow is also the fundraising deadline. If you’d like the make a donation towards my work, today is your last chance! Thank you so much for all of your support. You can make a donation online right here.

Photos of my first couple days can be viewed right here.

Thanks again for all your support! Camp UP 2014 is just about here!

Fundraising Update #2

One of my assistant coaches! STJA Alum Ava Schein!

One of my assistant coaches! STJA Alum Ava Schein!

Camp starts in one week and I couldn’t be more excited! The coaching teams have been set, the coaching manual is about to sent out, and this Monday night I fly out! I will be spending the few days before coaches training begins in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and hopefully up in Nazareth.

The big dance begins on the morning of 6/20 with coaches training! Three days after that… the kids arrive!

Than you, thank you, thank you for all your support! The fundraising deadline is 6/20, so if you’ve been thinking of making a donation, now’s the time. I couldn’t be more sincere when I say that every dollar counts!

You can make a donation online right here. You can learn more about what I have been working on right here.

Thanks again for all your amazing support!

Fundraising Update #1

Screen Shot 2014-04-25 at 10.57.51 PMThank you so much to everyone that has donated to my 2014 Ultimate Peace campaign. Ultimate Peace has truly changed my life and without your support my work with the organization would not be possible.

The fundraising deadline is the start of camp — June 20th — and it’s coming up quick! Over the past several months I have been hard at work with the coaching committee writing a new coaching manual and designing the coaches training sessions. It’s incredible how time has flown by! We are all so excited for camp to start in two short weeks!

If you’d like to help support my work with Ultimate Peace, you can make a donation online right here:

Screen Shot 2014-04-25 at 10.41.39 PM

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.

You can read lots more about my work with Ultimate Peace right here.

Thank you all again for your amazing support!

Math, Ultimate, and Origami – Update 3

Always. More. To. Learn.

There are many things that draw me to this region. First, it was Ultimate and sheerly coming to a new place. My friends pulled me in with something I was familiar with: The power of Ultimate to change lives, with the added bonus of feeding my addiction for travel. I knew I was going to learn. I knew I was going to see and experience “new”. What I really couldn’t have imagined in that early spring of 2012 when I was gearing up for my first trip to Middle East was how much I was going to learn. How my life was going to change.

On Friday morning, March 14th, I slept. What a glorious feeling to sleep in and wake up to the gentle sound of rain in the heart of the Old City. After a leasurely run through of my day, I picked up a small dosage of hotel coffee and joined the scrum on the street. I love being enveloped by the Old City. There is so much going on. Everything is interesting. I moved with a purpose to the south, then east, through a quick security checkpoint, and out into the Western Wall plaza. Out in the expanse, I looked around for  a place to fold and contemplated the weather. It was cold, and blustery, but I saw Torah stands I could use. Also, on this visit I was better prepared: I had my own Yamaka, straight from Zach and Mimi’s wedding. (Oh, by the way Zach, I now have a basic idea what all that interrupting was at your pre-wedding ceremony Tish.)

Yamaka

Out in front of the wall it became apparent that I wasn’t going to be able to fold inside, so I went into the arch over to the left, into the sea of praying Orthodox Jews. The power of concentrated prayer, in that space especially, is quite amazing. I did feel out of place, and yes, I really was, but at no point did I feel unwelcome. So, I made my way over to the far wall, found a chair and a stand, and began to fold. I folded cranes out of paper with written messages from my mother’s church and a few students from my school. It’s a 3-hour period I will remember forever. As I folded I placed the finished cranes on the seat next to me. The seat was eventually covered. Three times during the stretch something new happened — Orthodox Jews came up to me and spoke to me. At one point, I looked over my shoulder and two were watching me fold, so I picked up a blank piece of paper, folded a crane, and gave it to one.

I then bagged up the cranes and moved out into the plaza, to the outside portion of the wall. I found the crane I left yesterday, and went to work placing cranes around the edge of the same stone. While placing the cranes, I had one conversation with a secular Jew from Tel Aviv who said it was wonderful that non-Jews had faith in the Wall. He said he came here, to be at the wall and charge himself, like an iPod connected to an electrical socket. What a convergence of place and terminology. Wonderful.

I then backed away and looked over the cranes, all of which were now placed. Back in the center of the square as I walked away, it began to rain again. So, I moved north up into the Muslim Quarter, and headed to my favorite spot in all the world (Yah, I think so), the roof of the Austrian Hospice. On this visit I only stayed a short while, soaking in the view of so much… everything. I then walked the short distance north to the Damascus Gate to meet Rachel, a local UP coach. We walked the Old City, ate Knaffe (yum!) and then took in some Arabic Coffee at an expat cafe in Jerusalem.

We then met up with one of Rachel’s friend’s, Lucy, and made out way to a Shul for a Shabbat prayer session. I stood through the packed ceremony, and took in the calling and loved the dancing. Afterwards, the three of us were invited to Shabat diner with another of Rachel’s friends, Dave, a Rabbi and author. There ended up being 10 people at dinner and it was so, so, so over the top wonderful. We ate, talked, prayed, laughed. We laughed until we cried and hurt. The group was incredibly welcoming, interesting, and had such beautiful stories. The whole dinner spanned a solid 3 hours, and there was no down time. I can’t wait to visit Dave’s family again. After dinner, we walked back into the night, which was pretty interesting as Purim was gearing up and there were a healthy number of people dressed up running around in the streets. We saw many Smurfs. Yes, Smurfs.

I made my way to the Jaffa gate, and then through the rain-slicked alleys of the Old City, back to the Hashimi Hotel where I quickly crashed.

The next morning I woke to another easy morning. I got caught up on email, packed up, and before checking out had a nice breakfast in the hotel, right next to a window overlooking a huge vista of the Old City. I then made my way out into the Old City, and quickly treated myself to another round of Knaffe, before moving to my perch on the roof of the Austrian Hospice. I got comfy with a book and read for a while, taking in the view every few minutes.

Back in the scrum of the Old City, I meandered over to the Jaffe gate and sat and watched from the top of the stairs to the David museum. Shortly afterwards, I met up with Rachel and we caught a taxi to checkpoint 300, where Ben picked us up. About 15 minutes later we arrived at the Beit Sahour School, where we setup for practice. Ben did a fantastic job pulling the kids together, warming them up with a fun close-pin game of tag, and then ran them through drills and a couple scrimmages. The kids have game. We had a small space, but they used it well and showed good patience.

After practice Ben, Rachel, Amanda (Ben’s friend) and I had a very filling dinner in Bethlehem. After pulling down lots of hummus, kebobs, and some Taybeh beer, we drove Rachel back to Jerusalem, played some cards, checked out the view of Jerusaelem from the roof of her building, and then Ben, Amanda, and I made it back through checkpoint 300 and to Beit Sahour, to Ben’s apartment. Sleep was grand.

The next morning I woke up and we all talked about what to do. We quickly settled on a trip to the Dead Sea, given that the weather was perfect. So, we picked up Rachel, then headed east and then south on the very nice highway, to Ein Gedi, stopped briefly to load up on lunch on the way. The drive out was notable for the scenery and the 2,500+ foot drop to the level of the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth. Crazy. Oh, we saw some camels along the way too.

After parking, we ate some lunch and then went down to the rocky shore, and had a blast floating in the water. I noticed the sign that said don’t put your head under, and I didn’t plan to, and now I know… that would be a truly terrible idea given how much salt is in the water it burns your eyes like crazy. You’re so boyant in the water it’s actually not very easy to stay veritcal while floating. There’s also a pretty strong current, which means people tend to drift without noticing. The salt also coats many of the rocks on the shore, which is pretty cool to see.

After drying off the best we could, and accepting the layer of salt that was bonded to us, we got back in the car and drove back to Jerusalem. There we dropped off Rachel and went back into the West Bank. Back at the apartment we got cleaned up and then headed out for dinner, stopping at the local KFC to see how fake it was… only to discover that it was REAL! By that point we were so hungry we succumbed to what was in front of us and enjoyed some American chicken! Back at the apartment we all slept soundly.

The next morning I woke up early, polished off some UP work, and then Ben drove me to the Bethlehem bus station where I easily found a taxi van to Ramallah, which took off right after I arrived. Heading north I enjoyed the view of the valley, and the huge winding  road built with USAID funds. In Ramallah I got out to a familiar sigh of controlled chaos, and made my way to the Manara circle. From there it was a straight shot to the Friends Boys School, the Upper School I was visiting for the day. (The Boys School is in name only. It’s now coed.)

After a bit of exploration, I found my contact, Elizabeth, who then gave me a tour along with another visitor. I then had some free time to explore and then the head of the Upper School, Mahmoud, brought me to an 7th grade math class which was high energy and great fun. Next, I had some time to talk with Elizabeth before I got to see a 8th grade math class which was quite advanced! Right before the end of class I was pulled out and brought to the basketball courts where I got to run a middle school gym class! In all I had 20+ kids running after discs and flying all over the place. All the kids showed great energy and there were a couple that showed some great skill. At the end of the session we took a group photo and then I talked to a few of them while helping them learn how to throw forehands. Such great kids! I left a few discs behind and told them I would be back in June.

I said my goodbye to Elizabeth and then headed out into Ramallah to find the store where I could purchase some FBS clothing. A couple wrong turns and some help from locals later, I found the store, got the jacket I was looking for, then headed back to the bus station where the bus I wanted was just about to leave. Back in Bethlehem I arrived at the bus station and started my journey on foot back to Ben’s apartment. Walking at night, through the crazy streets of Bethlehem and Beit Sahour, I was super happy to take two wrong turns before finding the apartment. Comfortably ensconced back at the apartment, I worked through some UP emails, then slept.

This morning I slept in a bit, packed up, and then walked back to the bus station where I caught a taxi van to Hebron, a new place for me to visit. About 45 minute later I got out of the bus into an amplified version of Ramallah. Everything was busier and more crowded. And more intense. I was immediately approached by someone offering a tour, which I nicely brushed off. I then got my bearings and walked in what I thought was the right direction to find the Cave of the Patriarchs. Along the way I found the tourism office which verified I was going in the right place. I continued down the one street of the Old City of Hebron, and passed through security from zone H1 (Arab) to H2 (Jewish). There I walked up and entered the Mosque section of the building. I ended getting a tag-along with a local guide who was, really, doing it for free. What an amazing place. I saw all the tomb markers, and was particularly drawn to Sarah’s. Through the green grate I saw the large marker, and over to the side the edge of the same type of window for the Temple side. Wow.

I then made my way back outside, and around to the other side of the building, to the Temple entrance. Outside I put on my Yamaka, passed through security, and went up into the Temple. I joined a prayer session, and then viewed the tomb markers — the same ones I saw before, from the other side. The whole experience was powerful and truly surreal.

I’ve found that the place is best described in this line from Let’s Go:

“The allegorical possibilities of this astounding effect—two different groups looking at the same object from segregated areas and investing that object with different meanings—are almost comically endless. Regardless of whether or not you see this place as a symbol of the conflict, it is a foundational site for Western religion and an unparalleled opportunity to compare the differences both deep and superficial that exist between Judaism and Islam.”

Back outside, I walked around the rather empty streets, got a bit of food int he Settler’s cafe, and then my way back into H1, up through many streets, and eventually found the taxi van launching area for Bethlehem. Before boarding I had a great conversation with the driver and one Hamaya security guard. Fun. The ride was smooth and so very interesting. Seeing the constant security as I did in Hebron, where everything was so packed together. Back in Bethlehem I was let out in a new area, but given that everything is so close together I easily found the Church of the Nativity where I met Ben and together we found dinner.

We’re not back at the UP apartment, working away at UP tasks.

Tomorrow I’m going to explore and attend the Bethlehem practice. I am also hoping to visit the Beit Sahour school. In the days after the plan is to attend the first Jerusalem practice, explore and find the Marzapan Bakery, and then go to Acco with Miri, the Origami teacher. Friday night there may be a UP coaches social gathering. Then on Saturday I fly home.

Always. More. To. Learn.

Math, Ultimate, and Origami – Update 2

Whoa.

People certainly make a place. Here, in the busy hum of Tel Aviv, Tamra, Neyanya, Ra’anana, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Beit Sahour… that couldn’t be more true. In launching myself on this 18-day journey, I certainly felt a certain level of anxiety. As everyone who has ever traveled to this region knows, nothing is every super easy. There’s an added level of complexity that’s added to every task. And I knew what I wanted to do in my time here was all over the place, and that I would need support… and I had faith in the amazing network of truly AMAZING people that make up this place.

I could not be happier with how thing have turned out.

My Sunday morning (3/9), started with an early morning taxi ride to Ra’anana to pick up my rental car. I would have loved to have been able to rely on public transport, but bouncing around to super specific locations is not always easy in Israel. At the rental care agency, all things went to plan, which was especially relieving since I had to use my backup plastic since the night before I went through the fun of canceling my primary plastic. Yup, I certainly called my banks and notified them of my travels, but it turns out that my primary card was used in SoCal. On Saturday. Oh well. Anyway — I got my car, geared up my GPS, and moved north on 6.

While traveling north to Albayan high school Tamra, all I knew was that I needed to get to the city. Alas, there are no addresses in the same sense we are used to in the States. Half way through my journey, courtesy of the wonders of Waze, one of the students I was meeting sent me an exact GPS location, and I was set. The ride was smooth, and for us folk used to driving for 3+ hours to get places, quite quick. In Tamra, I made my way through the busy streets, enjoying the “active driving”.

I parked in front of the school and shot a text out to a couple of the students I was meeting. I set up waiting near the gate, and looked across the threshold to the first student I saw… who was UP CIT Areen! 1/1 on recognizing people. Nice. We were quickly joined by Shada, Asmaa, and Hanan who were my guides for the day.

I ended up going to one math class with Asmaa, and then a second one with a different teacher. Math truly is a universal language, and I managed to keep up with most of the problems. That being said, I do not speak Arabic or Hebrew, so I was well behind in understanding certain moments. I now know, clearly, what some of my new international students feel when they first land in a math class here in the States. The math itself can make perfect sense… but not click. It can be so tantalizingly close. I really get it now.

After class, we stopped as Asmaa’s house on our way to practice. I got to meet her mother and was treated to a round of very tasty Arabic coffee. I now have quite a taste for the potent brew. Now I just need to learn how to make it properly myself.

On the way to practice it started to rain. For the first time in 3+ months. Practice ended up getting truncated a bit and instead of two sessions, one combined practice was run by Abe and Chris. It was fantastic to see the kids in action. I practiced my lefty throws a bit as my right shoulder is still a bit mangled. By the end of practice, everyone was happily drenched. Abe and Chris ran a fantastic show.

After practice, I dropped off a few players and Ali and I went to his house to get cleaned up. Over at Ali’s I met his wonderfully friendly mother and rested up a bit before Ali and I headed out to pick up Shada and Asmaa. At dinner, we were joined by Samir, and we loaded up on salad and pasta.

The next morning, I woke from my first full night of sleep in more than a week, and Ali and I went upstairs for breakfast. I loaded up on a delicious array of food and talked to Ali about our day, all while taking in an amazing view of Tamra. Next, Ali and I drove over to his school, located in the neighboring town of Kabul. At school, we started by meeting with the principal, and then I got to visit 5 different classes: 4 math classes and one Arabic. During the last 30 minutes of the last class, Ali’s teacher gave me the floor and I talked a little bit about myself, and then ran the kids through some of my favorite math questions. We had a blast talking about infinity, irrationality, and famous unsolved problems.

After school ended, Ali and I headed back to his house where we had another fabulous meal prepared by his mother, who also took the time to show me some good technique tips for making Arabic coffee. We all sat around talking for a while. I learned more about Ali’s younger brother, and talked more with Ali. At around 5pm I said my goodbyes, and headed south for Tel Aviv.

In the city, thanks to Waze, I easily found the address for the night’s gathering of UP coaches. Then began the battle for parking, which I found 10 minutes away, in a timed spot in front of the Norwegian Consulate. After getting confirmation on what the sign said from two different people, both of whom said it was okay to park in the spot, I walked back to the restaurant. And of course, while the address was easy to find, the opening was quite hard to see, but alas, this is Israel and some things are a bit tough ;)

The gathering was for Sarah, for the people in the area she impacted. I knew about some of the people that were going to show up… and then they kept on showing up. By 9pm it seemed like everyone was there. It was such a grand experience. Jez spoke as eloquently as only he can. We then had the social fun that Sarah was so known for — the smiling, and reveling in each other’s company. I made new friends, connected with ones I hadn’t seen since last summer (Tomer!)… and had Such. An. Amazing. Time.

Afterwards, I crashed with Chelsea on her familiar couch, and woke up early to find my car… which I was relieved to find still in the spot I left it in! Hooray for not being towed. Then, with another round of help from Mr. Waze, I found the Ra’anana HS with an hour to spare, which I used to down a nice breakfast outside in the sun. The area was quite a convergence given the traffic of kids AND the fact the Purim is coming up… so, LOTS of kids in awesome costumes.

At 9:30 I met the UP Ra’anana CIT contingent at the gate and started off a great morning of visiting classes. I ended up seeing three different classes, at three different levels. The students were super friendly and there was certainly an upped amount of energy in the air due to Purim. I also got to speak to the math chair a bit and talk to a couple other teachers. After classes, I spent some time in the teacher’s lounge ironing out some plans.

Next up, I drove back into Tel Aviv and parked in one of the coastal lots by the pyramid play structure thing made of ropes. I was hungry, so of course I headed for the Shuk where I picked up my favorite Shuk snack of incredible blue cheese and a baguette. Yes, I know, not super traditional, but wow, so yummy. I capped off my snack with a nice bit of reading in a cafe, after which I found the outside atmosphere to have changed from sun to driving wind and some rain. I battled my way back to my car, and then headed to north Tel Aviv to spend the night with Chris Panna.

The next morning I drove north back to Herzliya to meet with Miri, the head of the Origametria program, which teaches Origami to elementary students across Israel to help them understand Geometry. I first learned about her program in the phenomenal Between the Folds documentary. The segment of the documentary that covers Origametria can be viewed right here:

I had an absolutely wonderful time meeting with Miri and her husband Paul Jackson, who is also involved in the program, and an unreal Origami artist. We talked, drank tea, and I learned so much about the program. Miri gave me a mini lesson in the efficacy of using geometry terminology to teach Origami and I was thoroughly impressed. Paul explained his work and the impact of folding on thinking, and how it works so very well with younger children. They are one of the most fascinating couples I have ever met. After a wonderful lunch, Miri invited me to come up with her to Acco next week to observe an Origametria data-gathering session. I cannot wait.

2014-03-12 12.57.27

Back on the road, I headed east to Jerusalem. The drive was smooth, even with the rain, and while gassing up the car involved a U-turn in heavy traffic, the the return place was, of course, out of the way and not easy to find, all went well and I got the car all tucked in back at Sixt. Out in the sun I walked the short distance to the Jaffa gate to the Old City, and through the familiar and wildly textured alleys of the Muslim Quarter to the Hashimi Hotel. After dropping off my stuff, I headed out west from the Old City to meet up with Ben, Rachel, and Amanda.

The four of us had a great evening of card games, and then Ben, Amanda, and I headed into the West Bank to meet up with the Daajneh family and some of the local UP kids. It was so great to see everyone again. After chatting with the family, and Ben impressing us all with his Arabic, we continued to Beit Sahour to the UP apartment to eat dinner. Ben then brought me back to the Jaffa gate where I made my way back through the alleys — no map needed — to my hotel.

The next morning I slept in, polished off a torrent of email replies over coffee, and then headed out into the Old City. The rain was coming down, but most of the Old City is covered, so I was pretty protected. Out in the plaza I got my first view of the Western Wall, and then realized it was a great time to get in line to go up to the Temple Mount. Out in the rain I waited, and for short periods there was some actual hail. Surreal. Up on the Temple Mount I walked around the Dome several times, and really took in details of the place I hadn’t noticed before. What a place.

Back out in the streets, I made my way to Abu Skuri and filled up hummus, falafel, and tea. Fueled up, I went back out into the rain, to the Wall, and wandered around inside the side area, soaking in the surreal environment of tremendous faith, believe, history, and… simply, the Old City of Jerusalem. Back out at the Wall, I folder my first crane. Tomorrow, the main folding will occur.

Back a the hotel I warmed up, rested a bit, and then headed south west to the Armenian Quarter to visit my favorite tile and jewelry store. The proprietor was there, and we talked for a while about several topics. What an interesting man. Out in the night, I walked a short distance to a nearby Armenian restaurant and enjoyed a nice meal of lamb, salad, rice, and baklava. Yum!

Back here at the hotel I am gearing up for sleep. Tomorrow I will spend a good portion of the day folding at the Western Wall, but I also hope to meet up with some local friends. Tomorrow I’ll change my base to the UP apartment in Beit Sahour, and from there visit schools and various other sights around the West Bank.

Of to sleep I go.

Math, Ultimate, and Origami – Update 1

The Middle East never ceases to amaze.

My journey began early on Wednesday morning when I took off from my parents’ farm in Western, MA. It was certainly quite nice not only having company on the drive, but also not having to eat a huge parking fee in Boston. While I did want to take my little bro along, he’s still a couple years off from his first trip with me to the Middle East.

On the drive out I had a great time catching up with my parents. It really is wonderful to live back in the Pioneer Valley close to home! My flight was at 1pm, but I was heading into the city early to have breakfast with one of my college friends I hadn’t seen in 10+ years! Vanessa and I had a great time catching up over breakfast, and marveling over how much had and hadn’t changed in 10 years.

After breakfast I was dropped off at Logan to begin what would become my smoothest ever ride to Tel Aviv. Everything about my Air Canada journey went as smoothly as it possibly could. No lines anywhere, super easy boarding, and as always, I slept for 90% of my time on each plane. Not only that, my checked bag (Ultimate Peace gear) turned up right as I walked up to the baggage carousel. Nice.

Immediately outside the airport terminal I caught a train bound for Tel Aviv, got off at the Tel Aviv University stop, and found Dan waiting for me right outside with his car. At this point the full awesomeness of the weather hit me as I took off my sweatshirt, then my long sleeve shirt, and enjoy life in my t-shirt. Wonderful.

Dan, his friend Amit, and I bounced around Tel Aviv picking up some supplies for the clinic which was happening the next day. We also stopped for lunch, which in fitting fashion was some very yummy humus and falafel. Before heading to Dan’s place, we stopped off at the IFDA office where I got to see Dan’s two adorable dogs, Pi and Tao.

Later that evening Dan and I headed to his place where we had a small dinner, and then went to practice with Element, one of the Israeli club teams going to club worlds. I had a great time practicing with the team, was only making a moderate fool of myself on the field… and then I went deep, dove high and twisting to the left, stuck the catch but twisted far enough around that all of my weight came down on my right shoulder. That took me out of the practice, and I still have a solid amount of soreness two days later, but my shoulder has full mobility and the pain is ebbing away.

Back at Dan’s place we were greeted by Ben Spears, an American who has been out here for two months working with lots of Ultimate Peace communities. All three of us had a great time talking Ultimate until late, and then I eventually crashed, almost kinda at the right time to get into the swing of things in this time zone.

The next morning (Friday), we woke up at a sane hour, packed up out gear, and headed into Tel Aviv for the Israeli Flying Disc Association coaching clinic. In all about 35 people were in attendance, including, including about 15 Ultimate Peace people!

UPPeople

The clinic took place in a very nice lecture hall, and my section on Spirit of the Game lasted an hour. I was really happy with how the clinic went. It was really dynamic, lots was covered, and there was a bunch of active contributions from the attendees.

After the clinic a bunch of us went to dinner at a high-end 24/7 breakfast place. I treated myself to a Croque Madame, a beer, and an iced coffee. Life was good. We had a lively discussion over dinner spanning current events, Ultimate, and life.

Back at Dan’s place, Abe and Teem joined in on the slumber party and we had a grand night filled with discussion and a viewing of Zombieland. The next morning Tim got picked up early by Ben, and Abe and I drove up to Netanya to the 1st year CIT clinic which was taking place at an American International School.

The group was made up of all Up campers, and they were led by Karym, Abe, and two CITs — Ali and Raz! I spent the day at the edge of the discussions, watching the work get done, mainly in Arabic and Hebrew. As I explained to the kids at the end, even though I didn’t understand too many of the words, I could absolutely understand the bigger picture of what they were working on.

We capped off the clinic with some Ultimate out on a very nice field, and then the kids caught their bus back home. Abe and I dropped off Raz and Noam along the way, and then made it back to Dan’s where soon after Abe was picked up so that he could make it back north to his place.

I’m now at Dan’s place in Herzliya, planning out the details for my next few days up north. I’ll be visiting at least 2 schools in Tamra (Asmaa’s and Ali’s) and then heading over to Buena Nujidat (sp?). While up there I’m going to spend full days visiting classes, and attending practices in both villages. On Wednesday the plan is to come back south to spend a day in a school in Ra’anana. After that I’ll be connecting with the Israeli Origami Center, spending some time in Jerusalem, and then I’ll head into the West Bank for a week to continue visiting schools, coaching Ultimate, and seeing as much of the region as I can.

I’m so happy to be here.