I’ve spent two evenings at Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam, and still no bag. It should have been here today, but something got lost in the Shabbat non-workday. Either the guy showed up with my bag but no one was in the office, or something. I should have it tomorrow for sure, but the way it’s gone so far I shouldn’t make assumptions.
Fortunately, the rest of my time here I’ve experienced similar communication problems. Fortunately, because this problem is a good thing. In the past two days; I’ve heard four languages spoken around me, often all at the same time. At one point, I sat on the steps of the volunteer house, hearing a conversation in Hebrew and Arabic in my left ear and one in French on my right.
The village residents speak Hebrew, Arabic and English, while two of my volunteer housemates speak French. One is German, so I’ve probably heard that language, too.
No, I don’t understand any of it, aside from a couple of words. But I’m OK with that. Even in diversified California, I nearly always talk to people and hear people in English, with a little Spanish thrown in. I now understand how Spanish immigrants feel trying to communicate in the U.S. It’s damn hard. If I were staying more than two weeks, I might start getting the hang of the languages at least a little bit, but I’ll just sit back and enjoy hearing the differing flavors the tongue has to offer.
I haven’t started formal interviews yet, but I’m making connections and meeting people. Tomorrow I’ll begin that process, which I’ll hopefully be prepared for. I’m still not sure where this story will end up. There are so many different angles about the village, that it would be best to focus on one. But I don’t know what that is yet.
When I first heard about the village, I didn’t realize how much had already been written about it. The way I’m going to come up with the best story is to break new ground, but that’s hard to do when so many people have (and continue to) cover this unique place. Still, I feel there are stones that remain unturned based on the stories I’ve read so far. I just have to find them. I’ve followed the village through the 80s, into the peace process, through the memorial controversy of the fallen soldier and past the second intifada. There’s a lot of meat there, and I don’t know what I can say that hasn’t been said already. So, I think I need to look to the future. That could be with the kids in the village, or the village expansion, or looking at what role the village plays in this mess we call the peace process after 30 years of existence.
Or, I might write about none of those things. I can’t say. It’s too soon, but I want to try and find a focus as quickly as I can. Unfortunately, it may be a long time before I know for sure. Until then, I’ll try and cover every possible pathway, searching for the one that leads me to my story.