Hello loyal followers,
I apologize for our radio silence. The past two days have been quite a whirlwind, and I am just now finding a few moments to sit down and detail what we’ve been doing. Next blogpost up you will get a participant perspective.
Well, after seven hours at Logan, we got out of Boston. While I don’t fully understand why we needed to wait, the pilot mentioned crosswinds and visibility–all in all, it was an extremely easy flight to Munich. Pretty much everyone slept for the bulk of the flight, or enjoyed some on demand movies. We got to Munich, arranged our hotel, and had a quick “German” dinner. Quite an experience. We slept as much as we could and early the next morning continued our journey. After making it to Vienna we RAN through the airport to make a quick connection into Dnep.
When we arrived, our friends from Dnep and Haifa greeted us with song and applause. Unfortunately, half our bags missed the flight. Props to Jacob, Maya, Ilana, Rachel, Zoe, and Hannah for being troopers and waiting until today to get all their belongings. I assure you they are now reunited, and it feels so good. After a quick dinner at the Menorah Center restaurant, most of the group went for some ice skating at the indoor rink nearby. Then, bedtime.
After some MUCH needed rest, we went to the Jewish Day School this morning for breakfast. There we were picked up for our bus tour of Jewish Dnepropetrovsk, which brought us all over the city, ending in a stop to the Holocaust memorial. Our Haifa friends had put together a lovely “tekes”, ceremony, to commemorate the moment. We sang, read poetry, and lit candles.
Once we were done, it was back to the day school–and to open our real Havayah camp! The students sang, danced, and welcomed us in true Ukranian style. After lunch everyone got to work in their camp groups! They were rock stars. Our Bostonians overcame language barriers and began to build real connections with the young students. I’ll let them tell you more about their experiences, but just know I am beyond impressed.
After our first day of “camp,” we hit the bowling alleys. I bowled 100, and I am very proud. Then some dinner followed by planning and evaluation to get ready for tomorrow.
Kiev and Ukranian Unrest
We have heard the news about Kiev–through American news sources. I cannot stress how quiet Dnepropetrovsk is. We are very aware of how things look, but please know this is not all of Ukraine. We are monitoring the situation, and have at least three very large security guards with us at all times. They are responsive to our needs and I’ve enjoyed working with them thus far.
Despite some stomach issues, moments of being overwhelmed, and cultural discomfort, the fellows are fantastic. I am so spoiled to work with such a great group. I really mean it.