Friday, October 8, 2010

Today was a good day. I took advantage of the first day of my school's fall break and slept until noon, then met up with my friend Ali who works in Bayou St. John but hails from, guess where....Ramallah. Well, near Ramallah. I just checked my old Rand McNally map of the British Mandate of Palestine, and after looking and looking for the village of Taiba, which I thought was just too small, I finally found Ali's El-Taiyibeh. Today he showed me with his phone and keys where it was in relation to Ramallah and Jerusalem. I asked him if there were Jewish settlements near his village, and he pointed to five outlying places, explaining that Ramallah and its villages are surrounded, and cut off from Jericho and the Dead Sea. One of the settlements was built on land that his father owned. He said all of this so calmly, so matter-of-factly. Now the village is called Taibe, and wikipedia says it's in Northeastern Israel...?

My plan is to visit الطيبة and meet Ali's family. He said they would tell me their stories, introduce me to their friends, and "yes Morgan, they will make you Maklouba. Yessss. I hope they make too much so the next day I can microwave it and smother it in yoghurt.

I tend to favour British spellings.

Anyways, after our meeting, I headed over to the Moishe House, a community home for young, Jewish professionals that hosts events for the Jewish community (and friends) in New Orleans. That's a rather simplified description, but you can find out more about it here. I went to visit my friend Jeff and discuss the possibility of hosting an inter-faith dialogue/book/study group there next month. I want to broach the idea to my friends, my church, and those who show up to the Free Palestine walk on Saturday, and ultimately get at least a group of Muslims, Jews and Christians together to talk about all of the things we have in common, and share articles and books and films about the Middle East. The Moishe House was very supportive of this event, which will probably happen in mid-November. hooray!

Then I sat in on my friend Cat's talk at Loyola about serving as a long-term Catholic volunteer after graduation. I had plenty to say about the benefits of serving a year or two after college, but looking back I had no idea that I'd be working for a Catholic organization when I got to New Orleans. But even though I wouldn't have chosen the Catholic route for myself, I ended up loving it. I loved meeting the Duschene sisters and getting the opportunity to speak at their volunteer dinners. I loved it when my STV's (short-term volunteers) busted out daily prayers and group reflections at lunchtime. I loved leading appreciation dinners, and selecting the wisest volunteer leader to say Grace. I loved the nation-wide network of schools and churches that continues to do so much for New Orleans. And I loved that at our morning staff meetings we could share a special prayer, or inspirational quote, or sing a song, or appeal to the weather gods, or pray to Breesus Christ...

After the talk I saw the first Loyola play, Almost, Maine. It was cute. Next up is Moliere's The Misanthrope and the Fall Ballet concert. Also, Le Petite Theater is showing Porgy and Bess next weekend. I spent all of last year soaking up New Orleans culture and didn't really go to plays or musicals or classical concerts, so this year I'm definitely going to take advantage of my proximity to Tulane and Loyola and see as many shows as possible. I also read on a flier that Loyola's Arab and Middle East Culture Club is hosting a movie and discussion tomorrow. With snacks!

I'm liking Uptown.