Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Elephant Pants and Arab Folk Dance

Wednesday was a great day (although, I suppose, I could say this for just about every day here). We were done with our classes at the Jerusalem Center by ten AM, and then a group of us made our way to a local preschool (the same one where we did our mural painting a few weeks ago). Upon arriving at the school, we were led to the classrooms where we would be working. I was put in a group helping with four year olds. The next hour was full of laughing, playing, and singing. Our main purpose of being in the classrooms is to help the kids with their English through exposure. We started off by reading them a really simple book. We then proceeded to sing as many easy English songs as we could think of, including “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” and an Jerusalem-ized, and less morbid, version of Ring Around the Rosie. It went something like this: “Ring around the olive tree, basket full of olives; Olives, Olives; we all fall down!” ...Not the most creative, but not bad for being under pressure and on the spot.

Then that night was our Arab Culture Night. We’ve been looking forward to it for weeks, so we were more than ready for it by the time it arrived. We all dressed up in our Arab garb that we’ve been collecting for just this purpose. One of the local shopkeepers who’s especially fond of BYU students showed a few of us how to tie scarves in turban-like head wraps, and we taught others here, to make for a new JC trend (and one that I’ll be bringing back to the States – you’d never expect a scarf wrapped on your head to be as comfortable as it is). Genie pants were also a definite must—mine even have elephants on them! Another trend I’ll be bringing back to BYU. 

Head wraps! Definitely chic.
Becca and me! The picture's kind of far away, but I promise that there are elephants on my pants.

We started off the festivities by attending a forum address by two of the men who do the call to prayer for the Al-Aqsa mosque here in Jerusalem. That was pretty incredible. They did a demonstration of the call, and then of the Quaran readings. The call to prayer is projected from mosques five times a day here. The Al-Aqsa mosque is the third most important mosque to Muslims, so it was a privilege to hear a demonstration from the men. 

Sarah, Me, and Lee
After the forum, we had a big traditional Arab dinner, including (of course) lots of rice, chicken, and salads. Following dinner, we all proceeded to the gym for a lesson in Palestinian folk dancing! It was a bit like a mixture of Irish River Dancing and country line dancing. In any case, it was a blast, and we spent an hour or so winding our way around in circles this way and that. However, even after the hour of dancing, I was still in need of more dancing catharsis. Thankfully, my roommate and best friend here, Sarah, was as well. We made our way down to the laundry room (where it’s cool and there are mirrors) and finished out the dance party. Two hours, plenty of hip hop, J-Pop, and K-Pop later, we found ourselves quite satisfied. We’ve now made roommate dance parties a staple of our evenings here. All of you who know me know that a dance party a night is exactly what I need. :)

Roomie pic! Janae, Sarah, Me, and Lee

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