Sunday, December 26, 2010
The Holy City is spectacular. The golden dome of the Dome of the Rock stands out brightly along the city skyline. Our highlights in Isreal have included floating in the Dead Sea, walking the palisade walls of the Old City, biking around the Sea of Galilee, touring the Holocaust Museum, and visiting the Western Wall. Kelsie, Josef, Sarah, Katie and Hannah were able to visit Hebron and Bethlehem with a Palestinian tour service and were amazed by the incredible stories of grief and hope. On the 21st we travelled west to Tel Aviv to take in the night scene and see Luke and Josef off.
And then we were five. On Christmas Eve we met up with Ed and Lois and travelled down to the little town of Bethlehem. Church services, caroling, candels, and mullled wine combined to make an unforgetable Christmas. The Palestinians work hard to present a safe and welcoming environment in Bethlehem, but one can hardly forget their plight. They sell small Nativity sets with strong political reminders: Mary and Joseph walking toward the stable, blocked off by a wall. Christmas day we exchanged gifts and attended a nice Christmas potluck at the pastor's house.
We left home 4 months ago today and at 12:45 tonight we leave. OverTIME will be over.
Time is what some might call a nonrenewable resource. Once it passes, you can never get it back. The past four months have been filled with some of the most incredible adventures of our lives - we have done and seen things that we will never forget. We have filled our journals, our suitcases, and our memories with momentos from our TIME so that we will remember what it meant to us. Now that TIME is over, we look forward to the time ahead - a time filled with laughter, friendships, and new adventures together which will forever change our lives.
Thanks for following our blog,
And TIME'rs, thanks for the trip of a lifetime.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
As TIME examined Ed Langerak’s lengthy study guide on the bus back to Cairo from Hurghada, we began to accept the fact that we had a lot of work ahead of us. We had just spent a week touring Pharaonic temples, sailing down the Nile, and lounging on the Red Sea, but as finals approached, we needed to hit the books.
Now, instead of discussing the roles of the Egyptians gods, we discuss the role of the restraint principle in the public square. Instead of enjoying the liberty to sleep until noon on the beach, we reexamine Galston’s proposal for expressive liberty. Instead of immersing ourselves in philosophical musings, we immerse ourselves in detailed definitions and perspectives.
At all hours of the night, residents of the Cosmo can see Oles scattered throughout the lobby and lounges, headphones on, rereading articles and writing study guides. It looks as if we are all hard at work, engrossed in philosophy or paper writing. Although our efforts are ultimately productive, sometimes we find it hard to concentrate without a semester’s worth of studying stamina behind us…
Kelsie writes notes with her blue marker, daydreaming about sitting at the prow of a felucca, sailing down the Nile and into the sunset…
…At the next table, Claire copies a definition down in her small, meticulous handwriting, and she’s reminded of the quality of the artistry in the tombs. She was always one of the last ones observing the paintings covering the walls and the ceilings…
...Kate twirls a strand of her hair, looking at something she’s written on a green post-it note, wishing she was looking down at the green valley along the Nile in the Valley of the Kings. You couldn’t beat the view from the basket of a hot air balloon at six in the morning…
…Katie Curtis scrolls along the document of her Dell, thinking about how great it would be to see the sound and light show at the Pyramids before the trip ends…
…Nick quickly scans Kate’s study guide before she comes back, wishing he was back in his scuba gear, scanning the coral for tropical fish and the octopi…
…Connor chooses a new song on his iPod, longing to bestow his good taste in music on the whole group as they hang out under the Hurghada stars…
…Jon sighs, looking worn out, and wishing that he was exhausted from examining the never-ending series of Egyptian temples and artifacts instead of from studying the never-ending debates about human rights…
…Sarah turns through her notebook pages, longing to be turning over cards in one of the many euchre games played on the bus rides through the desert…
…Bri adjusts her reading glasses, thinking back to when she was adjusting her camera settings so that she could capture the sunrise over the Valley of the Kings…
…Nandini savors a piece of chocolate to help her get through the day, yearning for the time when she was savoring the view of the Mediterranean Sea from Fort Qaitbey in Alexandria…
…Luke Peterson stares at his computer with a look of intense concentration…not realizing that he’s sitting in front of a mirror, and we can all see that he’s actually playing Tetris. But he has finished his paper so he’s a step ahead of most of us…
…Alondra sips her Pepsi and tries to soak in all of the information, thinking back to when she was soaking up the sun on the snorkeling boat…
…Josef writes a definition in his notebook, wishing he was looking at the writing of the ancient Egyptians or maybe even the graffiti of the 19th century European tourists found on most of the ancient temples…
…Luke Telander can’t be found in the lounge because he’s off exploring some other part of Cairo. We’re still not sure whether he’s more efficient at preparing or just less likely to stress over a final…
…Eliza combs her hair as she scribbles in her notebook, wishing she was examining the everyday artifacts of the Egyptians—combs, jewelry, and even beds…
And I type on my computer, looking like I’m working hard on my study guide when I’m actually writing this blog post.
Here’s to all A’s!
- Hannah Ehlenfeldt
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Let’s begin with Jon Laven. Hailing from Chanhassen, MN, John sports by far the most, the thickest, and the manliest facial hairs in the group. He can actually grow a beard, and he’s had one since we were in Turkey. His beard has awarded him several nicknames. Among them are ‘Grizzly Adams’, ‘Beardy’, ‘Ed Langerak Jr.’, and ‘Jesus’. The last nickname being the most relevant – it’s uncanny how much he looks like Jesus.
|Jon, in all his glory|
|Nick has seen better days|
Josef Lorentz, or Yousef, as our new Middle Eastern friends call him, resembles what we’d all imagine a 13 year-old Robert Downey Jr. might look like. For some reason, his hair only comes in goatee-form, save the four hairs he has on the side of his face: three hairs on the left, one on the right. We’re nervous about the outcome.
|Josef, hiding his shame|
|Robert Downey Jr.|
On the other hand, I have always wanted a beard. Always. But, due to a lack of courage and facial hair distribution, I have never tried. I always imagined I’d grow up to find a young Jerry Garcia looking back at me in the mirror, but I wound up staring at Andy Richter instead. Here’s to hoping I have a beard to come home with in December. Merry Christmas, Mom and Dad.
|Me, Connor, trying to pull off a blonde beard|
|Andy Richter: Conan's sidekick, Connor's doppelganger|
Moving down the roster, Luke Peterson, the 6’ 8’’ Neanderthal whose long, luscious locks are barely tamed by a red headband – which appropriately matches his ginger-beard. Luke’s facial hairs are noticeable enough to resemble a beard; we’re all just worried he’ll find himself single after the month is over. Good luck, Katie.
|Luker, headband and all|
And finally, the unsung hero of No-Shave-November, Luke Telander’s facial hairs remind us of our pubescent selves. We have yet to confirm their existence, but sometimes, and in the right light, we catch a glimpse. We’re all suspicious he’s shaving half the time, but thankfully, his razor is broken.
|Luke T., what kind of face are you making?|
Ed Langerak hasn't had a clean shaven face since 1974. No-Shave-Adulthood. We're proud to know you, Ed, here's to many more years of facial hair growing.
|Ed, our Fearless Leader|
As we turn to the weeks ahead, Nick Stang and I have been making predictions of the triumphs and tragedies that the group will know by the time December 1st rolls around. Only TIME will tell.
- John Laven will shave his beard before the end of the month. Quitting, just like he did when the group fasted on last day of Ramadan. We all saw the muffin, Beardy.
- St. Olaf’s predominant Norwegian heritage will shine through. No one will look that good.
- Lois won't be able to stop complimenting the boys on the trip. Until we shave, we’re taking Ed’s beard’s place.
- Nick Stang will keep his “moustache” for the rest of his life. He really thinks that thing looks good.
- The women from TIME will eventually settle down with people who don’t have any facial hair. Both at the request of their future therapists, and to help fend off the nightmares we are creating.
Be good, be safe, be healthy, and be in touch,
Connor Johnson and Nick Stang
|The Men from TIME watching the sunrise from the top of Mt. Sinai|
|Oh fer cute|
Sunday, November 7, 2010
|Our desert tents at dusk|
|Berber Musician at the fire pit|
|Sunrise over the Sahara|
|Bundled up and perched atop the highest sand dune for the best view|
|TIME2010 Camel Caravan!|
|Connor facing off with his mount|
|Our fearless trip leaders forging the way ahead!|
Thursday, November 4, 2010
It's another morning at Maison Didi, Kate and Bri's home away from home for the last month. We're called to breakfast by Meena, our chef des cuisines, who struggles as much with the pronunciation of our American names as we did with theirs. "Sabrina! Ket! F'dor!" (translate as "Bri! Kate! Breakfast!"). We enjoyed morning delicacies such as bright yellow sponge pancakes, french bread, jam, Laughing Cow cheese and the ubiquitous Moroccan mint tea. While some of our group endured the harsh pollution of Fezzi air when walking to school every morning, we preferred to sleep in and take a last-minute taxi, a ten-minute ride that cost less than one US dollar.
Our classes at ALIF (American Language Institute in Fez) consisted of either a class in Dareeja, the Moroccan colloquial dialect of Arabic, or a sociology course entitled "Gender, Modernization and Social Change in Morocco," taught by the enthusiastic and passionate Fatima Amrani - you may recognize her from the wedding pictures. She happens to be the first female Moroccan English-language playwright, among many other accomplishments.
|Professor Amrani served mint tea after our final exam.|
Pictured below is our classroom; the ornate walls are common in Moroccan architecture.
After a two-hour morning class, we joined our more energetic classmates for the 40-minute trek to our homes in the Fez medina. Arriving at our door, we were greeted by Meena's shout of "SCHKOON?" ("WHO?"). We were instructed to respond with "KREB!" but after using it for the entire month, we are still unsure of its meaning. During our 4-hour lunch break, we had time to relax, complete last-minute homework, and enjoy the midday meal - the most important meal of the day in Moroccan households. The various dishes, always served in gigantic communal bowls, included different types of tagine (a dish of stewed meats and vegetables or fruit), mystery meat skewers, and our favorite, couscous. Every meal was accompanied by stacks of khobs (homemade, round, dense bread). Our lunches were never complete without a desert of fruit. Bri loved the pomegranates and Kate loved the mandarins. Not long after lunch, we returned to ALIF for our afternoon class.
|A typical street in the Medina|
We spent free time after class in either Cafe Clock or the ALIF riad, a restored, traditional Moroccan house with a courtyard garden, situated in the Medina and available for ALIF students. Internet access at both locales allowed us to maintain relationships with friends and family at home and around the world via Skype and e-mail. We also watched movies, played a lot of euchre and made frequent trips to the nearby bakery. On days that we didn't have class, many of us spent happy hours getting lost in the labyrinth of the Medina, shopping and getting hassled by persistent salesmen.
|The ALIF riad|
|Bri and Josef at Cafe Clock, drinking fruit smoothies and banana chocolate milkshakes.|
Around 9 pm, most of us were expected back at our host families' houses, so we would return to Maison Didi just in time for the last meal of the day, usually a smaller version of lunch. After dinner, the entire family curled up in the salon for what we found to be Morocco's favorite activity - watching TV. Soap operas from around the world (Hindi, Turkish, Mexican, etc.), all dubbed in Dareeja, were our family's preference. Meena would serve the last cup of mint tea to the family and the last two or three hours of the night were spent in quiet relaxation.
|Satellite dishes on the roofs of the Medina, illustrating the cultural prominence of TV|
Between 11 and midnight, Kate and Bri would bid the family "Bon nuit!" ("Good night!" in French, the second most-spoken language in Morocco, after Dareeja) and after brushing our teeth in the very pink, Disney-princess decorated bathroom, would fall asleep to the sounds of the not-so-silent medina.
B'slama until next time!
Bri w Kate w TIME 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
Although the invitation said 9:00 p.m., we left for the wedding at 9:30. "Arrive at 9:00 means arrive at 12:00 to a Moroccan," Fatima informed us. Sure enough, we were some of the first guests to arrive. Our arrival was announced by the deep-chested singing of four women. For the first time during my stay in Morocco, the sound made me feel like I was in the idea of Africa that Hollywood (read: The Lion King) instilled in me. The four women resumed their chorus when each group arrived.
Before the bride and groom arrived, the gifts arrived. Boxes strolled in (via the tops of men's heads) containing traditional gifts: perfumes, jewelry, money, teacups, and shoes.
The bride receiving henna on the marriage throne.
Josef Lorentz and TIME 2010