First Days of Teaching

Shalom from Israel! All four of us arrived at our apartment in Nazareth safely on the 6th, and we just finished our second day of mentoring at the Loop Campus. Before we dive into our teaching experiences, I want to share a bit about adjusting to the life in Nazareth.

Upon arriving at our apartment, we were welcomed by many farm animals like goats, chickens, and donkeys. There are so many of them around where we live (pictures to come in the future)! There are also so many stray cats, which we realized in Tel Aviv as well.

Our feline neighbor came to say hi at our door!

The day after we arrived in Nazareth, a mentor from Loop came to help us with grocery shopping. Fortunately, our apartment is located less than 10 minutes away from a supermarket, Shamshoum Supermarket. We were able to get all groceries ranging from eggs to pasta to ground beef to strawberries to hummus.

Grocery shopping at Shamshoum Supermarket with Rawan, one of the mentors at Loop!

The commute time from our apartment to the Loop Campus really…depends. If there was no traffic, it should really take only about 10 minutes, but traffic in Nazareth can be horrible (also the driving is really aggressive here). According to Rawan, traffic is usually really bad every day until 5pm. It takes us more than half an hour to get to the campus when the road is jammed.

Commuting to work on bus with Rawan the first day!

After getting stuck in traffic, we got to the Loop Campus and met all the staff we will be working with this IAP. Here at Loop, we say hi by giving each other a high five. We were introduced to some logistics and expectations, and we also received a list of students’ projects we will be helping with this IAP. Everyone at Loop is super nice and caring, and we can really feel that they want us to enjoy our time at Loop and in Israel 🙂 We also all got t-shirts with the Loop logos, and we were featured on their Instagram (oops should have taken a screenshot)!

MIT students with Loop mentors! Everyone wears Loop apparel here 🙂

It was finally time to meet the students! We introduced ourselves, and we played a name game to get to know each others’ names. Especially at a place where we might encounter unfamiliar names, it was important for us to grasp each student’s name and accurate pronunciation. We played a name game used in 6.UAT: pick an adjective that starts with the first letter of your name, and you have to repeat the name and adjective of everyone that went before you (we were “Kind Kalyn”, “Adventurous Ariel”, “Crazy Christina”, and “Excited Emily”). The game was a huge success! Everyone had fun and we succeeded in memorizing everyone’s name with correct pronunciation (hopefully?)

Most evenings, the “Loopers” (the students at Loop) have some assignments to do, and the first day we were there they were working on integrating Google Firebase into their Android Studio. While they were working on their tasks, we were able to have individual sessions with each student and learn about themselves and their app ideas. From listening to their ideas, we were able to learn a bit about the culture in Israel as well. One of the students had an idea to develop an app that spreads awareness about hidden female composers from the Classical and Romantic Eras. She shared how especially in the Arab culture, women’s rights are violated just for their gender and that she wants to challenge the norm. Another student shared her app idea for “sorry service”. She said that in Israel, people are too arrogant to say sorry, and there is a need for an app that allows users to say sorry to each other more easily. We really enjoyed listening to all the students’ ideas, and at the end of the day, the mentors told us that the students were very happy with the feedback we provided! 🙂

Our group was very lucky to have the Master Chef Emily! She is an amazing cook that knows a lot of nutritious and tasty recipes, and every night we look forward to what she cooks 🙂 Of course, we help in any way we can…

The team enjoying Emily’s lentil soup with bread!

Today was the second day at the Loop Campus. On Tuesdays, there is no regular after-school program, but some Loopers schedule individual sessions with us with help for their projects. We were able to help two Loopers and one mentor today with their projects, and each of us was able to provide help in our subfield within computer science 🙂

Since we finished our day early, we were able to explore downtown Nazareth for a bit. There are so many small cafes and vendors that we wish to check out during our time here. Today, we stopped by a shawarma/falafel place on the street, and we were satisfied by the amount of meat inside the pita (they put some meat, then some vegetables/hummus, then more meat)!

Enjoying our shawarma/falafel pitas after work!

Our adventure continues… 🙂

Written by Kalyn Bowen

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