שלום ישראל (Shalom, Israel!)

tumblr_n2ucirHCyI1tw5abco1_1280It was about 2 years ago, at our spring Parent-Teacher conference, when the idea of a study tour to Israel first came into my mind. A parent came in to talk to me about her son, who was taking my English II class at the time, and she was especially curious about my Spring Holocaust Literature curriculum 1.  The parent, who was Israeli, was not only excited about her son developing his English skills, but also about how some of his own culture and history was being incorporated into it. “He’s learning so much from your class, and he’s really excited about going back to Israel to see his country with new eyes.”

“By the way… Have you ever been to Israel? Would you want to go? How would you feel about leading a trip there?”

jake-is-amazed-o

And that’s how it started. Those questions led to a few solid months of planning for a trip over our school’s 2013 Spring Break, where my students would get to explore Jerusalem, the Judean desert, Galilee, and even more. Everything was going well until, in October, some crap went down, and like that, our trip was off 2. Having worked so hard on trip-planning, without a payoff, I felt spurned enough to decide on not doing it again.

But apparently, not spurned enough to remember my decision 3, because this Fall, when it came time to propose trips again, and I hadn’t heard of anyone else with an idea, I dug up my old itinerary, made some adjustments and, TL;DR, we were approved. Within a few months, 11 students signed up to join Lisa and I on the trip of a lifetime.

So here it is—just a few hours away from boarding our El Al flight from Hong Kong to Jerusalem—and we’re so excited. Over the past few weeks, we’ve done meetings with the students where we’ve studied the places we’re going to be going, tasted some of the food we’re going to be eating, and Skyped with Doron Yodan, our travel agent/trip planning-guru:

Curious about our trip? Inspired by David Theriault’s awesome Instragram-to-Wordpress IFTTT recipe, I built a similar recipe where each Instagram photo & video tagged #tpcast14 will be automagically sent to our trip blog, http://tpcast14.tumblr.com/. All 13 of us attendees are going to be posting pictures and videos like crazy, and we hope that you’ll follow along and check up on our site every few days. We’re excited about what we’re going to see, learn, eat, and do, and we look forward to sharing it with all of you!

Notes:

  1. For the past few years, I’ve dedicated my Sophomores’ 2nd semester to Holocaust literature—we use The Diary of Anne Frank, Elie Wiesel’s “Night”, Schindler’s List, and other Holocaust stories as our subject matter while we study grammar, writing, reading, speaking, and listening. My favorite thing about our school, as a teacher, is the academic freedom that we’re granted in planning curriculum. As long as I’m still hitting the course objectives, the subject matter is mine to determine. #DreamComeTrue
  2. True story—I was due to announce the study tour location on that Friday, so I had been working on a presentation for a few days to “sell” the trip to our students. Late on Wednesday night, my wife/principal told me that, due to the increased security threat, our trip was off. Isadpanda was crushed, but I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel 100%. In a move of manic desperation, I contacted EF Tours to develop an alternative study tour to Turkey & Greece and somehow managed to get it approved by the school, all within 24 hours. On Friday, I presented the trip to our student body… who weren’t impressed. Only 3 kids signed up, and our trip was cancelled for not reaching the minimum bar
  3. Do I have a tendency to revisit things I swear to not do again? NO, WHY WOULD YOU SAY THAT?
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