Thursday, September 6, 2012

9/6/12: Every New Beginning Comes From Some Other Beginnings End

Last night signaled the end to my 14 month Master's program in Middle Eastern Studies which, once again, closed another major chapter of my life. As I reflect back over my last 14 months in Israel I can't believe how much my life has changed and how different my plans deviated from what I had originally imagined them to be. In the beginning this program was meant to give me a fabulous year in Israel before I had to go back to the States to start my life. In actually what this program gave me was a whole new life to start in Israel. This program brought me to a country that I fell madly in love with, which prompted me to make Aliyah, which caused me to search for an apartment that led me to living with 4 crazy men who, even though I can't stand sometimes, I love to death, which opened up my social life thus introducing me to some of the greatest people I know, and BOOM... somewhere in that mix life crept up on me and began to take a wonderful shape. So, in essence, this program gave me so much more than I could have ever expected.

To commemorate the end of the program we had a little MAMES get together on campus where students and professors enjoyed great Persian food, live music, a wonderful slide show from the year, and then a belly dancing extravaganza. My roommate Morgan (who was also in the program) and I showed up a bit late due to awful bus schedules, but when we arrived I was happy to know we didn't miss any of the fun. I was able to see so many of the friends I made over the year and hear about their future plans, eat some good food, and enjoy fantastic live music.

My Arabic partner in crime and me enjoying the festivities 

After the music ended it was time for a fantastic belly dancing performance from the daughter of one of the most famous belly dancer's in all of Israel. She was joined by a friend of hers and they danced for two or three songs. I, of course, was in heaven because the music they were dancing to was Arabic and I felt right at home. The real fun, however, came after their performance was over. When they had finished dancing they announced that they wanted some volunteers to join them to learn some Belly Dancing moves... Well no one was exactly quick to volunteer so our fearless adviser mentioned that whoever went up to dance would receive extra credit. That only got a response from one girl so what our advisor did next was a bit more drastic. She walked right up to me, grabbed my hand, and told me I was to come up with her and dance. I, being not the most daring person ever, hesitated stating that I was on an academic break and didn't need the extra credit, but she wasn't going for that and I finally said "what the hell" and got my butt up to dance! One more girl joined and even my fantastic Arabic professor, Samir, made a guest appearance. Well, really, he stole the show but it was great fun! A friend captured as much as he could on film and though the quality isn't amazing you get the general idea. If anything that this taught me was that I am definitely starting to come out of my shell more :-)

When the belly dancing was over we had a few minutes to settle down while some light music played in the background. It was at this time that my professor, Bruce Maddy-Weitzman debuted his saxophone playing skills for the whole program. He looked so comfortably leaning against a tree rocking out with the background music. It was too much and just had to be captured on camera!

Yup... He was charged with my education! 
After a final announcement from the head of our program and a slide show of pictures from the year it was time to say goodbye and goodnight to everyone and head home. It was a great end to a great year and I will miss everyone immensely, but I'm sure we will all find ways of keeping in touch with one another. At least that is my hope!

While yesterday brought the end to a chapter today, in a sense, started another. I know that I made Aliyah back in February but it takes time for citizenship to be conferred and legalized. Since I will soon be traveling to the States, and since I have now been in Israel over 3 months since my Aliyah date, I was finally a legal citizen eligible to receive my Israeli travel papers and temporary passport. By law I am now officially an Israeli and I have the documents to prove it!

My temporary passport! 

Jordana Pepper: Nationality- ISRAELI! 

I can't adequately describe the feeling I got when I saw that my nationality was Israeli! I feel like it's a dream I've secretly always been working towards that has finally come true. Sometimes life is not always easy here but it's never not exciting, and no matter what, I am where I love to be which makes even the hard days a wonderful adventure; an adventure I am thankful for every day.

Tonight starts the beginning of my last weekend in Israel before my 6 week vacation in California so I am trying to do as much, and see as many people, as possible before I leave. I have a busy schedule lined up and before I know it Monday morning will arrive and I will be on a plane headed towards California!

Until we meet again <3,
Jordana Simone

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