So I trekked the mountain twice in two days. In reality, it was only once and half, but the "half" was uphill. The Augusta Victoria Hospital is located at the very top of the Mount of Olives, or as the Arabs call it, Jabal al-Zetoon. The ANERA office is located at the bottom of the Mount of Olives. Therefore, the logic goes as follows; I walk down in the morning, I hike up in the afternoon.
This morning I stepped into the office for my second day on the job at ANERA. Robert wasn't lying, I do have my own desk. They even gave me a laptop to use for the summer, although it's very, very slow. I'll stick with my own. They will also give me a cell phone, but I have yet to receive it.
My shirt was drenched with sweat, because believe it or not, it's hot in Jerusalem in the morning. My walk down the hill was pretty pleasant thanks to the vocals of Black Francis of The Pixies. It's nice morning music, I'd say.
So far, my job has been a little bit uneventful. Other than getting to know the staff around the office, my only tasks have been to familiarize myself with the various ANERA projects that occur in both the West Bank and in Gaza. The most extensive program by far is called the EWAS (Emergency Water and Sanitation) which is dedicated to bringing clean water and proper sewage systems to impoverished towns throughout what the UN deems as the oPt (occupied Palestinian territories). I don't know what my role will be in the office quite yet, but I'm sure the work will pick up soon.
I had to prepare a presentation this afternoon on a program facilitated by the Palestinian Authority called QIF (Quality Improvement Fund). This is a fund that administers government funds to applicants in the sector of tertiary education who attempt to improve the quality of such education within the Palestinian community. I will present my findings in due time.
Everyone in the office seems very nice. They are all very welcoming, but do they know I'm Jewish? The IT guy Amjad today asked me if I was a Muslim in context with a conversation about my Arabic studies. I responded with a quick "no." I know my boss, Robert, is aware of my participation in the Birthright trip. He showed me an article today in the Jerusalem Post that reported 15 American Jews from Taglit quarantined in Israeli hospitals because of Swine Flu. Thank goodness I'm not locked up in a hospital.
Anyway, I will certainly report back when I encounter some interesting stuff. For now, I will just show you the view from up top the Jabal al-Zetoon. (See top)