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Last Day of Work

Yesterday was my final day of work. My last time getting up early (though actually, yesterday, not too early) while the rest of my apartment sleepily lounges in bed. The last time wondering if the rest of them are noshing on challah French toast and caviar blinis while I’m typing out reports. The last time… working on a Friday… here…(?).

Actually, it was a really nice day. I came in and to my surprise (in addition to two small embroidered Palestinian bags she gave me on Wednesday) my keyboard had a few “holy Land” themed gifts scattered across it. Additionally, Harout gave me an Armenian mug with my name written on it. I kept thinking, This took planning! Effort! A week to for the order to come through!

It was incredibly sweet, although I kept having second thoughts about not bringing a cake or something for everyone else. (But then, what’s the occasion? “Hi everybody, we’re celebrating ME today! Here’s a cake which also celebrates me.”) Speaking of cake, there were also pastries from a shop in Beit Jalla which someone had brought (not, I think, to celebrate me, but still awesome).

At any rate, I was quite touched. Here I kind of thought I was just doing my job, hopefully well, but not (despite my boss’s consistent repetition of, “What will I do when you LEAVE?? You shouldn’t leave.”) anything that noticeable.

But, by the end, the whole office had begun to seem pretty familial. My boss is kind of like everyone’s grandmother– everyone’s caring, and yet possibly intimidating, grandmother; my co-workers like brothers and sisters and cousins. (Including one lady who names her children after various co-workers, apparently…) Not that we have that long a history, but few people outside my family know (rather, HAVE ASKED) so much about my family, my medical history, and my personal life. Plus my family, dear Southerners they are, have also sometimes-unintelligible accents…

At any rate, it was a really good experience. It confirmed for me the idea that I really want to work with words in some way, that I love interacting with people, and I can handle new and completely unexpected challenges.

I have to admit, at first I was a little scared about my internship, since I knew that mostly the office ran in Arabic, which I don’t speak, and not much English. But, though at times difficult, and though I was at first uncertain, it helped me to grow in ways I couldn’t have foreseen. Even the little task of getting to work and back– figuring out how to live in a new city far from home as an independent person– was incredibly useful (though, as with nearly everything in Jerusalem, also at times frustrating).

Had my last day been a month ago, I wouldn’t have looked back, I would merely have hopped on a plane overjoyed to be getting back. And, no doubt, Monday I will be really happy to be home. But with time I’ve actually grown closer¬†to people here (the people I’ve worked with, people I’ve met, not to mention the other wonderful GES participants!). I’m surprised to find that I actually feel that when I leave Jerusalem, I’ll still be¬†somehow connected to it.

– Natalie

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