Kibbutz

2/24/12

 

The kibbutz movement in Israel started in the mid 60s as a hippie movement, as our tour guide Lydia Aisenberg would say. Kibbutz is best defined as a combination of socialism and Zionism. There are two types of Jews in Israel today. There are the practicing, religious Jews, and the secular, cultural Jews. It was these secular, cultural jews that initiated the kibbutz system. Our tour guide told us that it was largely a movement of young people to both get away from global anti-Semitism and to embrace their Jewish heritage without embracing its religious aspects. This kibbutz was essentially Continue reading “Kibbutz”

Division

2/23/2012

I realized today that I have built a barrier between my mind and my emotions. I logically ingest the information I hear, but I have little to no emotional response. There are several reasons for why this happening: I am an outsider to the situation, I have very little if any power to impact the conflict in a noticeable way, and the emotional gravity of what I’m observing is so great that I am choosing to put it off. This feeling changed a bit when, tonight, I talked openly with peers on the trip about what I have been experiencing. Their views were quite similar. It is difficult to have a lot of information thrown at you and not know what to do. Like steam with no vent, my emotions have built up pressure and, given no way to escape, they threaten to break out at any inopportune moment. I am worried that my frustration might lead to unfair opinions formed out of anger.

 

Continue reading “Division”

Opinions

2/22/2012

Last night we visited Orna and Rami, a Jewish Israeli couple, at their home, 20 minutes outside of Tel Aviv. While their views are considered liberal by Israeli standards, I found them to still consist of many stereotypes that stem from fear. For example, they believe strongly in the necessity for a Jewish homeland in Israel, and yet they also feel that peace much be reached and are willing to make some sacrifices in order to reach this goal. Orna and Rami embrace the idea that agreement will only be reached if Israel does make sacrifices.

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Contrast

While on Senior Projects I kept having difficulties with internet access, but I wrote my posts nonetheless! Here is my first, and others will follow.

2/21/2012

We just landed in Tel Aviv at Ben Gurion Airport. Tel Aviv looks nothing like what I had expected. Sitting in the tour bus, listening to the Middle Eastern music playing on the radio, I’m in a world I do not recognize. Warm air from the window passes over my parched skin left over from the 11 hour flight, and the tangerine sunlight casually flickers across the short, beige towers. Everything is green, but not the lush green of Pennsylvania. It is the dehydrated green of the desert with underlying tones of brown and grey. I know that Israel is considered 1st world but compared to the big cities I’m used to— Washington D.C., Philadelphia, New York, Boston—Tel Aviv seems undeveloped, small, and poor. I guess this is just the beginning of feeling like I am in an entirely new world. 

-Elsa

The End?

Wow time goes by fast! I honestly meant to post a lot earlier, but time flew by and now I’m already back in the United States, taking classes at Westtown. It’s almost frightening how an experience like my trip to Spain can pass by in just the blink of an eye. Indeed, it’s already been over a week since I returned from Spain. In ways, it’s a relief to be done but at the same time I can’t help but feel sad that it’s over. Regardless, endings are a part of life and it is important to note that every ending opens the door for reflection. Continue reading “The End?”

I’m Done; Now What Does This Mean?

I initially meant to write this post after I finished work on Thursday, but I was in Vermont without internet access until today. When I left the hospital on Thursday, our group had just raised a total of $100,000 since they began keeping track of the funds. This momentous occasion will hopefully help us win a hospital-wide award for innovation of medical care at HUP. If we do win, I will get to come back and accept the award with the other volunteers and Trish. This would be extremely significant because it would make the work public, that we have been doing. Then all of the other divisions at the hospital could adopt our system and begin having volunteers raise money.

Continue reading “I’m Done; Now What Does This Mean?”

A Little Emergency Room Trip

My senior project is almost over. This is my fourth week working at HUP and I only wish that my project could continue for another couple weeks. A typical day at the hospital is quite different from my an average school day. At the hospital, I may have a rush of patients and paperwork and be extremely busy for hours or I may have only a few to see and get some free time to catch up on old applications. There are no scheduled classes at scheduled times. The patients are usually in the hospital for a few hours leaving me a large window to visit them. Lunch is another difference. At Westtown, everyday I have lunch from 1-1:45, while at HUP my lunch happens whenever I have a small chunk of free time. I like my life while working at a hospital, more than when I’m at school. It will be initially very difficult to readjust to life at Westtown.

This morning, I arrived at work a little before 8:00 and I went down to get a cup of coffee as I always do. When I came back upstairs, one of the patient coordinators, Carolyn, was in my office with a nurse practitioner and a doctor. Carolyn could not stop coughing and she was  practically hyperventilating. After a few minutes of trying to stop her cough, we decided that I should take her to the ER so that she could use a nebulizer to stop her cough and diagnose her problem. One concerning element is that she has tested positive for Tuberculosis three times but does not have an active strand of the virus. She is not contagious and does not have any of the symptoms of the disease and most likely never will. Nevertheless, she was worried that this may have been the cause for her coughing. I was initially scared that I had contracted the serious disease from spending the morning with her but in the end, her chest x-ray showed no sign of TB, pneumonia or bronchitis. I was greatly relieved and later realized that if there was any risk that she had active tuberculosis she would have immediately been quarantined. But if the next time I get a TB test it comes out positive, I’ll know who to blame.

-Matt

p.s. this is my penultimate post. There will be one more this Thursday.

Home…

It has been 24 hours since we touched down in good old America. I think it is universal for our whole group that we want to go back RIGHT NOW. 

I started missing it the second we got to the airport in Accra. It is so weird to be home with all of the internet access and the american food and the lack of children on the side of the road yelling “Obroni Obroni!”I miss the wonderful friends that I made during my time in Ghana and I know that mt life is changed. I will be the first to admit that I like my comfort items. I like my computer and I like my iPhone and I like my car, but being in Ghana made me realize that I don’t need those things. I have witnessed the lives of people who have nothing. I have seen teenagers that don’t have cell phones to be connected to. I have seen small children that are satisfied by the excitement of seeing a white person walking down the street. 

When I was planning my Senior Project, Teacher Steve told me to pick a project that was going to change my life. I am so happy to report that I did. Heritage Academy is part of my life now. I know that I will not go one day for the rest of my life without thinking about the 2 and a half weeks that I spent there. Those kids, my students, they became my brothers and sisters. It might sound lame to say that thinking about those kids is bringing tears to my eyes, but it is true! I love them! I sound crazy, I know, and I’m rambling but I really can’t find the right words to express how much that school means to me now. I am planning on returning to Ghana for summer classes this July. My kids are praying for me to find enough money to make the trip again, and I will do anything to make sure that it happens. Oh! I also started the beginning phases of starting a club at Muhlenberg College next year. There has been a lot of interest so far and I am thrilled that people are interested. 

Right now, I am sad that I am not in Ghana, but I’ll go back this summer, and I’ll see those amazing, wonderful, talented, brilliant, smart children again. I know I will. 

Love,

Jordan

A Good Day

Today was a good day. It all started this morning on the train ride into Philadelphia. I realized that I had done the calculations incorrectly yesterday. I forgot that I did not work last Friday, so my hundredth hour was going to happen this morning. This reinvigorated me and gave me a mission to start the day off with. I was going to contact all of the organizations that I had applied to the previous week to find out if my patients had been approved for their grants. Unfortunately, most of the places that I called were not open at 8 am so my calls went straight to voicemail. Then Trish arrived and told me to contact the Hope Lodge, a facility that houses patients that to come to the hospital regularly and live far away. I was able to help extend a patient’s stay for 51 days. The approximate cost to stay at the lodge is $190 per night. But the patients don’t have to pay, so we saved her $9,690 in total. Within minutes after I found this out, Trish told me that another patient that I spoke to yesterday would be approved for his respite vacation. This is a $5,000, week-long, all-expense paid DisneyWorld vacation for him and his family. His two children have never gone on a real vacation before and this will be there chance. Our hope is that this will give his children a happy memory of their father before he passes away. I am extremely excited to tell them this news on Friday, when the decision becomes official. This raised my grand total to $22,000 in 100 hours, which is twice my initial goal for the entire project. My next goal is to earn an additional  $10,000 during my last week. This is very likely to happen because my other patients will most likely receive the two $5,000 respite vacations and the two $6,700 chemotherapy co-pay assistance grants that I have applied for.

This afternoon while I was looking at the list of patients that were in the clinic, I noticed a familiar name. I had gotten this elderly patient free Philadelphia Phillies tickets this past summer. I was thrilled to know that he was still alive as most of the patients that I saw during the summer had passed away. When I went to his room, he and his wife immediately recognized me and thanked me for the baseball tickets. They told me that he had received proton therapy and was now completely cancer-free. It is amazing to know that the new advancements of medicine are actually elongating patient’s lives and helping to eradicate cancer. This visit only made my day better, it was the icing on the cake. After work, I decided to treat myself to some well deserved ice cream. Today was not a good day; today was a great day.

-Matt