#25- Third Day In Israel (Wednesday)- Hebron

Fruit stands in the Arab section of Hebron, H1.

Fruit stands in the Arab section of Hebron, H1.

Today we got up early and took the bus over to Hebron. We had to use different Arab tour guides because our Israeli tour guides refused to go. On the drive over, the tour guides explained a lot of the landscape, notable buildings, and infrastructure. We drove past many settlements, which stood out against the hilly landscape. You could even see where the Israelis wanted to build more settlements, which were marked by planting pine trees. This is a way of claiming land and covering up demolished Arab neighborhoods. Arabs claim land by planting olive trees. Sometimes you would see both types of trees next to each other, but often there were many more plots of pine trees than olive trees. We drove past part of the Separation Wall and went through a checkpoint, but were not stopped. Perhaps this is because the Israelis do not care who enters the Palestinian territories, but is concerned about who is leaving. Shortly after, my cell phone service also faded away (I have T-mobile and can use Israeli service providers at no extra charge). Next, we drove past Solomon’s Pools, which have a variety of biblical significances. Our tour guide said they used to be full of clean drinking water until Israelis rerouted the irrigation system. Now, they are almost empty, and do not have nearly enough water to provide for the people who live there. This is a way for Israelis to control the clean water the Arabs can access. The sides of the roads were also covered with garbage because the Israelis do not provide reliable trash pick-up services in Palestine, even though the Palestinians pay taxes for the service.

The fencing along the tops of the market in Hebron. This protects the people from the items the Israelis throw at them, such as rocks and garbage. Some pieces of garbage can be seen along the fencing.

The fencing along the tops of the market in Hebron. This protects the people from the items the Israelis throw at them, such as rocks and garbage. Some pieces of garbage can be seen along the fencing.

We drove some more and entered the central part of Hebron in H1. Immediately, you could see the difference between Israel and Palestine. The streets were extremely busy; there was lots of traffic because there were no streetlights and the roads were poorly designed. Every woman I saw had her head covered with a scarf, and many of the men were wearing keffiyehs. People weaved in and out of the traffic, as there weren’t many sidewalks, and the few sidewalks they had were very narrow and covered with street vendors. Speaking of which, there were street vendors everywhere, selling all different kinds of items. I even saw a man carrying a cart with a large silver kettle stop in the middle of the street to pour himself a cup of tea. When we got off the bus, we walked over the main market area on the pedestrian streets. The roads were lined with items. People were obviously trying to sell us things, but they weren’t as forceful as I was expecting. Many of the vendors were children, perhaps because people feel more sympathy towards them and their parents are aware. Many of the people said hello or “Welcome to Hebron!” which was very nice. I’m sure they don’t have many visitors, and it’s nice for them to see that someone cares. By the border between H1 and H2, the sky between the buildings was blocked by barbed wire and fencing. This is a safety measure because the Israelis are allowed on the roofs (even those of Palestinians), and often throw things, like rocks, at the Arabs. We met one family who had hospitalized two of their children due to Israeli harassment. One of them even underwent surgery after Israelis threw acid into his eyes from the top of the roof. The boy himself was no more than 10 years old. Around the corner, we met another man who wasn’t even allowed in his own house (even though it is in the Arab section) because it is on the second floor by the border, and the Israeli army sees this as a threat as they are allowed on the roofs.

Shuhada Street from the Israeli side. Note how deserted it is. This street used to be the bustling market when it was controlled by the Arabs.

Shuhada Street from the Israeli side. Note how deserted it is. This street used to be the bustling market when it was controlled by the Arabs.

After this, we went to a presentation by Christian Peacemakers Team in Palestine in a building along the border. The woman who presented gave us some background into the organization and the everyday conflict in Hebron. Many of the actions undertaken by the Israeli soldiers are illegal, and they try very hard to prevent nonprofits and NGOs from helping the Arabs. For example, they recently confiscated the Jeep that the organization used to transport children to and from school further south in the West Bank. After the presentation, we went on to the roof which gave us a great overview of the city and the conflict. The whole time we were up there, you could here tear gas being fired at a nearby checkpoint. I even found a bullet on the roof, which I decided to take home as a souvenir. Across from us were Israeli soldiers on top of a roof along with surveillance cameras. We were not allowed to point our cameras in that direction as it would anger the soldiers. From the roof, you could tell apart the settlements and the Arab sections. On one side was Shuhada Street, which was renovated thanks to US tax dollars. The street is supposed to be open to both Arabs and Israelis, but in reality, only one half is open to either group. We were next to the Jewish side, which was completely deserted (even with cars), which was a complete difference to the bustling, crowded Arab markets.

Abraham's tomb inside the Al-Abrahimi Mosque.

Abraham’s tomb inside the Al-Abrahimi Mosque.

Next, we went to the Al Ibrahimi Mosque, which is where Abraham and Sarah are supposedly buried. To enter, we had to pass through Israeli security and we (the women) were given certain cloaks that covered our shoulders, knees, and hair. Inside, there were many Arabs praying, but no other religions were apparent. The tour guide explained that it was because the Mosque is split in half, with a wall down the middle, to separate the Muslims from the Jews. This is a way of preventing conflict.

Arab children in a cage over their balcony on Shuhada Street. The cage keeps them protected from thrown objects, such as rocks.

Arab children in a cage over their balcony on Shuhada Street. The cage keeps them protected from thrown objects, such as rocks.

Afterwards, we entered the Israeli settlement within the town along Shuhada Street. Before entering, we had to allow a soldier to check our passports. He let all of us in, but refused to let in one of the tour guides because he is an Arab. Helga tried to convince the Australian soldier, but he replied with, “I do not make the rules. I only follow them.” The other Arab street vendors, including the children, that were following us were also prevented from crossing over. The most noticeable thing about this area of town was that it was deserted, there was no people and very few cars. This could be because there are so few Israelis in such a large area of the town. Walking along the streets, we noticed these posters that could be considered propaganda. They explained how Israelis were murdered by Arab terrorists and that the land of Hebron was stolen by the Arabs from the Jews. The other end of the street is open to Arabs, and is much busier and exciting. The strange thing is that Americans funded this street, despite the strict Israeli security. Clinton agreed to give away some US taxes as long as the street remained open to everyone regardless of religion, but unfortunately, this did not last.

A glassblower at the shop in Hebron. He was making an olive oil pitcher.

A glassblower at the shop in Hebron. He was making an olive oil pitcher.

Afterwards, we grabbed lunch (more salads, dips, and pita) and drove over to a ceramics and glassblowing factory to watch the artists make items. We were then allowed to purchase things, so I bought a tea cup for myself and an olive dish for my parents. Even though I have seen glassblowing and done ceramics myself, it was still interesting to watch them, as they make it look so easy. We then headed back to Tel Aviv to go out for one last day of nightlife. We went to a bar/club to go dancing. Everyone could tell that we were American from the way we danced. I thought this was funny, and an unexpected distinction between cultures. But tomorrow I have to get up early because we’re leaving early for Jerusalem, so I’m going to go to bed and get some sleep. Goodnight!

Conflict as shown by trees, which they plant to claim land. The pine trees designate Israeli land. The olive trees designate Palestinian land.

Conflict as shown by trees, which they plant to claim land. The pine trees designate Israeli land. The olive trees designate Palestinian land.

#24- Second Day In Israel (Tuesday)- African Migrants in Tel Aviv

The park on the walk over to NYU Tel Aviv.

The park on the walk over to NYU Tel Aviv.

We also spent today in Tel Aviv. The first thing we did was walk to NYU Tel Aviv. We went through a beautiful park along a river with paddle boats, which reminded me somewhat of Central Park. When we got to NYU Tel Aviv, the organizer of the site gave us a brief overview of the program. It’s very small at around 20 students, but it is planning on growing (though not much larger). I learned that there are Journalism courses at this site, which piqued my interest, and I learned that many of the students intern for NGOs and nonprofits while they’re here, which is definitely one of my goals. Learning about these aspects made me more interested in studying here in the future. After the brief overview, we all went and got lunch. We ate at this tiny restaurant that had the best hummus I’ve ever eaten and delicious kabobs.

Then we went back to NYU Tel Aviv for another lecture from Helga’s friend, Hani Zubeida, a professor who runs television and radio stations as well as an NGO, ARTEAM, which operates the Garden Library. He was lecturing about his NGO and what purpose it serves. He repeatedly referred to the problem in Israel as an “identity crisis” between Jews, non-Jews, and “non-Jewish Jews.” He said that these non-Jewish Jews are the children of migrants, refugees, and migrant workers that grow up in Israel and fully integrate into Israeli culture, but not the religion. Many of these migrants and refugees are currently from Africa and they work lower class jobs that are dirty, dangerous, or demeaning. Many of them entered without proper papers, and are therefore considered illegal and could be deported or imprisoned at any time. Though they aren’t accepted by the Israeli government, they are key to the economy for they fulfill the necessary jobs that the Israelis don’t want to do and don’t allow the Palestinians to do. These Africans are the ones we saw demonstrating at the beach yesterday. Hani’s NGO works with the migrants in the legal and social work fields to help give them more equal rights and prevent their deportation. They work by enabling community leaders under the common saying “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” One of the things the NGO did was set up a free public outdoor library, the Garden Library, so that people can learn Hebrew and other languages and children can get help with homework. The next thing we did, was take a bus to go see this library.

The Garden Library in the Africans park.

The Garden Library in the Africans park.

On the bus route, we were told to pay attention to the public space and stores outside the window. At first, the sidewalks were large and the stores were mostly expensive designer boutiques. Slowly the area became more residential and graffiti became more common, but there was still a lot of expensive restaurants and stores. Then all of a sudden, we turned the corner into Neve Shaanan and the sight outside the window changed completely. There was only Africans, many of whom were standing talking on the streets, unlike the Israelis further east who seemed to be rushed or busy shopping, not socializing. The buildings were practically lean-tos made out of aluminum siding, selling various cheap items. The sidewalks were extremely busy as well. After getting off the bus, we walked to a nearby park, Lewinsky Park, where many of the Africans hang out and where many homeless Africans sleep at night. Immediately, you could feel the tension in the air when we walked into the park. We stood out like sore thumbs, as we were mostly either white or Asian. There were people in yellow pinnies who were watching us and keeping close to the group. Eventually, they walked off because there was a commotion on the other side of the park. We thought that perhaps the police and army, which surrounded the park with multiple soldiers and officers, had made a few arrests due to the protests, but later we found out it was a car/pedestrian accident. Also, the park was full of only men, and Hani explained that its because of the patriarchal nature of their culture, and that many of the women were home taking care of the children and discouraged from participating in the protest. It was also very quiet, or at least for the amount of people who were in the park. Eventually we walked over to the library, which was in the center of the park leaning up against a bomb shelter. Though small, it contained books in (I think) 17 different languages as well as board games. We didn’t stay in the park for too long though, so as not to increase suspicion anymore and to allow tensions to ease. I did really enjoy our time in the park though; I found it very exciting.

After the park we walked back to the Central Bus Station. There were a lot of immigrants, but also a lot of Israelis, which surprised me in comparison to the surrounding neighborhood. It seemed pretty run down on the inside, and most of the stores sold cheap items. There was a store for every immigrant culture, as well as many other retail stores. Hani explained that many of these stores and banks were used in various ways by immigrants to send remittances back to their families in their home countries. We eventually left the bus station and walked to a nearby Chinese restaurant, which I thought was kind of funny. Though, during the lecture today I learned that there is a decent sized Asian population, imported as migrant workers, so the Chinese restaurant made some sense. Many of these Asian people come from Thailand, the Philippines, and China. They replaced the jobs filled by Palestinians when Palestinians were barred from Israeli territory. The food was pretty good, and seemed to be pretty authentic Chinese food, to the best of my knowledge.

Drag performance at the gay bar.

Drag performance at the gay bar.

Eventually, we went back to the hotel to freshen up before going out to check out the Tel Aviv nightlife. We went to a regular bar, but realized it was pretty expensive and didn’t stay long. Because of this, we decided to take a bus over to a gay bar. When we got there, we realized it was drag night, so we stayed to catch a few of the performances. This shows just how modern and liberal Tel Aviv is in terms of cultural expression. Unfortunately, all the jokes they made after lip-synching were in Hebrew, so we couldn’t understand many of them. They did ask if there were tourists, and when we shouted out, they welcomed us here and brought Charlie up on stage for a little bit. Afterwards, we got some ice cream and took taxis back to the hotel. I’m about to head off to bed because we have to be up very early to drive to Hebron. I’m excited to see the segregation in the town. Can’t wait!

Helga’s Question: How is Tel Aviv both open and segregated/bordered?

Tel Aviv is open in the sense that it is culturally and religiously liberal. The city does not follow many strict guidelines set by the Jewish faith and strictly followed by the Orthodox Jews. It is a center of LGBT culture, when Judaism condemns homosexuality. We experienced this ourselves when we went to the gay bar and saw the drag show. The people also dress very modernly; women wear pants and show their hair and shoulders and men don’t wear yamakas, let alone the traditional Orthodox suits. The city is also known for its nightlife, which we enjoyed every night. Drinking goes against traditional Jewish guidelines, but this doesn’t affect Tel Aviv whatsoever. Overall, it is very modern, and despite the Hebrew, you wouldn’t feel that you were in a very religiously dominated country like the rest of Israel.

On the other hand, Tel Aviv is very segregated and bordered from non-Jews. Throughout the city, there is no acknowledgement of Palestine or Arabs, nor do you see any walking on the streets. If you didn’t know about the presence of Arabs in Israel/Palestine, you would never know they existed just from walking in Tel Aviv. We went out one night and some local guys started talking to us, Skye said that we were going to Ramallah and we were Arab. They were stunned that we were going, and they told us that they would throw rocks at us. When she said we were Arab, they walked away. I think this instance sums up the separation and discrimination in the city. The city is also segregated between the Jewish and the immigrants. The city itself is all white people, but the immigrant area was all Africans. Immediately when you entered this area, you noticed this and the stark difference in the quality of the buildings. There was practically no blending between the look and culture of the two areas of the city. Though there was no wall, there was a clear borderline. On the surface, Tel Aviv seems very open, but upon further exploration, one becomes aware of the deep set cultural segregation.

*NOTE*- There is a lack of photos because we didn’t want to intensify the situation within the park and around the African neighborhood.

#23- First Day in Israel (Monday)- Tel Aviv and Jaffa

Today we arrived in Tel Aviv at Ben Gurion Airport. In Newark, we had to go through an extra level of security prior to boarding the plane. Our flight landed in the morning, giving us plenty of time to go around the city the rest of the day. The weather is absolutely beautiful; not too hot, not too cold. Looking out the window while the plane descended and when we were on the highway on the bus, it became apparent just how many Jewish residential neighborhoods (which look like settlements) are around the city. There were nice suburban ones where all the houses looked the same and had red roofs (which were visible from the plane window), but there were also ones with smaller buildings and apartment style buildings. The roads were big and new and there was no traffic, though we did miss rush hour. I also noticed that many of the cars were new and/or expensive brands, which surprised me as the cars in Africa tend to be a few years older, even in the wealthy families. Of course, they all had the yellow Israeli license plates.

First, we stopped at our hotel, the Grand Beach, and had a little time to unpack and exchange money. The hotel is a few streets away from the beach (yay!), and there are great views of the water from our room. A group of us met to exchange currency. Israel uses the shekel, which is about $3.40 US dollars. Afterwards, we got falafel sandwiches around the corner. They were delicious: definitely one of the better ones I’ve eaten recently. When we went out, we were immediately uncomfortable because everything was in a different language. Once again, I struggled with the ATM until I figured out how to change the setting to English. It was difficult seeing all the signs for streets and stores, but having absolutely no idea what they meant. At least with languages like French and Spanish that use the Arabic alphabet, you can make a guess as to what a word means, but with the Hebrew alphabet, this is impossible, which left us completely confused. We weren’t sure if we would be able to order the falafels because we couldn’t read the menu and we weren’t sure if they would understand us (because an older woman at the bank couldn’t), but thankfully they could. Some of the people waiting in line were shocked that some of the group hadn’t eaten falafels before, but they were very nice and explained all the different sauces.

The memorial for

The memorial for the Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.

After this, the entire class met up again so we could take the bus and go on a tour of the city with the tour guide. Our first stop was the Memorial for the Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin in front of the City Hall at Rabin Square. Rabin was the Prime Minister at the time, and was a supporter of the Oslo Peace Accords, which was supposed to give Palestinians self-governing power in the Palestinian territories (this differed in practice than in theory), and Rabin helped move the process along. He was shot by an Israeli, who opposed the Oslo Accords. Hearing our Israeli guide talk about the day in happened, you could tell that he thought that Rabin was a great man and that the Oslo Accords actually did form some peace (which is debatable, depending on which side you ask).

The Africans demonstrating along the beach.

The Africans demonstrating along the beach.

While driving to the next stop, we drove past a demonstration of Africans, many of whom immigrated illegally and now work lower class jobs. They were peacefully protesting and marching along the beach in hopes of receiving more equal treatment and resources from the Israeli government. When our tour guide mentioned it, I expected the protest to be quite small, but it was extremely large. There was a huge crowd along the entire length of the beach. It was shocking, and everyone was stunned. Though, when our tour guide was mentioning the demonstration prior to seeing it, he said that we would see a lot of “blacks.” You could hear the racism in his choice of words, which wouldn’t be acceptable in the US. But in many other foreign countries, these terms are used much more openly as well as racism being more open in general. They were also being surveilled by foot police and soldiers as well as a police helicopter, which took pictures of the demonstration. We will be spending some more time with African migrants tomorrow, and will possibly get to go to the demonstration.

The neighborhood on the right side, next to newer high-rise buildings across the street on the left side.

The Kerem HaTeimanim neighborhood on the right side, next to newer high-rise buildings across the street on the left side.

Next, we walked around the oldest neighborhood in Tel Aviv, Kerem HaTeimanim. These buildings are much smaller and older, giving the neighborhood a very rustic and quaint atmosphere. Despite this, it is right across the street from large and modern high rises. This neighborhood was established in 1904, marking the beginning of Tel Aviv. It was created by 66 families, who were the first Jews to settle exclusively outside of Jaffa. When talking about the founders of the city, you could sense the pride in our Israeli tour guide’s voice. He was praising these leaders for starting the city, without ever mentioning anything about Israeli expansion into Palestinian land. In fact, he only mentioned Palestinians once throughout the tour (when talking about the Oslo Accords at the Rabin Memorial). He would point out each street named after an Israeli founder, and explain their role with great pride. After this, we walked to the Carmel Market to walk around. It reminded me of the flea markets in South Florida that I loved going to as a kid. The market sold everything- clothing, shoes, souvenirs, fruits and vegetables, breads, etc. It was very crowded and full of all sorts of smells and people trying to sell you things. I didn’t buy anything, so I went to go get a much-needed coffee with Helga.

The old city of Jaffa.

The old city of Jaffa.

After this, we hopped on the bus again and went to Jaffa, the older side of the city (Tel-Aviv and Jaffa are run under the same municipal governments). According to the Bible, Jaffa is the port where Jonah ran off to against God’s will and where he eventually got swallowed by a whale for disobeying God’s orders. Jaffa Hill is an old walled neighborhood made up of apartments and art galleries. It reminded me of the old walled cities from medieval Europe. While we were there, we saw a few weddings and took photos of the bride. We also walked past St. Peter’s Church, and I stopped in (to make my Catholic family proud) and caught a few minutes of a sermon. After this, we walked around the port, which reminded me of home. It smelled like freshly caught seafood and the docks were full of small sailboats and old fishing boats. There was even a small lighthouse. After this, we got dinner in Jaffa at a place called Old Man and the Sea. It was a mainly seafood restaurant, but I had steak because I don’t really like most seafood. It was delicious. For appetizers they gave us tons of salads and dips and freshly made pita bread. I believe the restaurant was Arab-run, as there were many Arab couples in the restaurant and the spreads seemed more Arabic. We finished the meal with some very strong coffee. But for now, I’m going to head off to bed because I’m extremely tired from the jet-lag. Can’t wait to spend tomorrow with the Africans.

#22- Response to “Jerusalem” by Guy Delisle

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 Jerusalem by Guy DeLisle is a graphic novel that documents the author’s year-long stay in Jerusalem. He stayed in Jerusalem with his family while his wife worked for Doctors Without Borders in the Palestinian territories. They stayed in an Arab section of the city, and therefore lived their life as would a typical Arab family, for they didn’t want to support the Israeli occupation. This gave DeLisle an interesting perspective, as he was an outsider not used to the everyday struggles presented to the Arabs. The book is broken down into each month the family was there, with smaller subsections documenting individual occurrences. Though many of the issues presented in the graphic novel are quite serious, DeLisle manages to work in some humor while still remaining informative. Though it was quite long, the book is very approachable and I finished it within two days.

Though I am not typically a fan of graphic novels, I really enjoyed reading this book. It was very informative and I think it gave a very truthful and unbiased perspective at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict without being completely depressing. DeLisle was very much an outsider during his stay, and was therefore unaffected by the opinions spread between both Israelis and Palestinians. His novel showed the true difficulties the Arabs were presented in everyday life without any prior knowledge to skew his experiences. DeLisle just documents his experiences, without trying to make any major political statement. The reader is the one who uses these experiences to form their own opinions, which would likely be resentment towards the Israeli treatment of Arabs. In this sense, it is very informative and was extremely helpful to read before traveling. Seeing as DeLisle went to many of the places we plan on going to and experienced many of the things we will experience, it gave us an idea of what to look for. This background will be very important in picking up the details of our trip once we are there. In this case, the drawings were also extremely helpful. They provided visual examples of the everyday struggles in Palestinian life. For example, many of his drawings showed water tanks on the roofs of the Arab neighborhood, which is a subtle hint at the lack of water provided to the Arabs. DeLisle’s drawings truly illustrated his experience and brought it to life for someone who has never been to the country before. Overall, I think reading this book prior to traveling will be very helpful once we get to Israel because it gave us a very detailed and factual background of life in a suppressed Arab neighborhood without directly trying to make an overt political statement.

#21- Response to Group Project “Falkland Islands”

Link to Project- http://falklandislands.wikia.com/wiki/The_Falkland_Islands_Wiki

A map of the Falkland Islands.

A map of the Falkland Islands.

The Falkland Islands are a group of two large islands and three small islands off the southeastern coast of South America by Argentina. About 2,121 people live on the islands, most of whom live in the capital, Stanley. The islands became British territory after years of colonial control, and therefore its residents are British citizens. Though Great Britain is in charge of the Islands’ foreign affairs and military defense, the Falkland Islands are run through a high level of self-governance and the people feel a high level of independence. The Islands are part of a larger dispute as well; they technically belong to the British, but Argentina has been trying to gain control of the islands. The British have not given up in the struggle, which resulted in the 72-day Falkland Islands War of 1982 following Argentine occupation. The British pushed out the Argentine forces and regained control of the territory. This struggle over control intensified in recent years as the British began drilling for oil around the territory. Though the vast majority of the Falkland Islanders would rather remain a British territory, Argentina has begun to petition this control in the UN. Argentina is currently threatening the oil companies with fines and jail time if the British continue drilling, which they have. The struggle is now ongoing.

I think that this conflict shows the tensions of our post-modern society. Much like the countries we studied (Sudan/South Sudan), the conflict intensified as soon as oil became involved. Oil has immense power in society; it has both high revenues and satisfies a shortage. Therefore, countries with oil have leverage in international relations. Because of this, it makes sense that Argentina would like to control the territory. It would give them more power; though they disguise their desire under claims of environmental destruction. This conflict reflects the power of oil and the struggle for new sources of oil as we deplete our resources. In terms of a solution to the conflict, I agree with the group who wrote the project. I do not think that Argentina can stake claims to the land just because of geographical proximity. The country has been functioning fine under British control, and many of the Falkland Islanders identify more with the British than the Argentine (i.e. language, familial descent, etc.). The most important evidence used to support this point is that the vast majority of Falkland Islanders (1,513 out of 1,516) see themselves as, and would rather remain, a British territory. In this case, I think it is up to the people to determine their citizenship, as they are the most directly affected in terms of everyday life.

I think that this project was informative, especially since I haven’t previously heard of the Falkland Islands. It gives a nice overview of the conflict, but I think that it could go more in depth. I think that the entry needed more details overall, that way I would feel that I understood the conflict better. I think that the group should have provided more information on the War of 1982 and the current conflict over oil. The description of the oil conflict was very brief, and I would have loved to hear more. For such a small territory with so few people, I think this conflict is interesting in the sense that it is very important to two very large, modern countries. Also, the grammar and flow of the article was slightly off, and there was some grammatical and spelling errors. The entry needed more flow and some cleaning up. I did really enjoy the section on the position taken by the group. I thought that it was very clear and thorough and they gave very good reasoning and examples to support their opinions. Of all the sections, I think this was the best and stood out as the most important. Overall, this wiki entry was informative for its length and took a well-explained and clear position, but needed some final editing.

#20- ATM in Russian

From Part Two of Journal Suggestions- Language and Accessibility

Today I used the ATM in Russian. First off, Russian is written “Русский” in the Cyrillic alphabet. I had to look this up later, as the words and letters were so confusing, I wasn’t even sure which language I picked at first and couldn’t figure it out. I only know how to speak English and Spanish, so it was difficult as the Russian language and alphabet seem to have no similarities to English. Secondly, I hadn’t used the ATM in quite awhile in English either, so I had forgotten where many of the buttons would appear or what would appear first. In all, it was extremely confusing.

I struggled to understand the language, and perhaps even more so than if I was speaking to someone in a language I couldn’t understand. With a person, you can read their gestures, expressions, tone of voice, body language, etc. to help you comprehend the meaning behind the unknown language. But with a computer, you do not have any of this. It is just a screen that gives information, and there is little you can infer from. I struggled so much, that I refused to complete my transaction in Russian (I did it again in English), because didn’t know what I was doing and refused to screw up my account. It was extremely difficult not knowing the language, and although I had plenty of time and wasn’t frustrated, I’m sure those waiting behind me in line were quite frustrated. It was confusing because not only did I not know the language, but I didn’t know the alphabet and its unique way of spelling. To me, it seemed like a bunch of gibberish on the screen.

The Cyrillic Alphabet.

The Cyrillic Alphabet.

One thing that is the same in both English and Russian is the numbers. They appear in the same Arabic script as ours, so that was helpful in inferring which stage of the deposit and withdrawal I was at. Though I did not proceed with inserting or taking the money, it did help me identify that I was (finally) at these stages. I was still nervous though, that perhaps I was on the wrong one, and thus why I didn’t complete the transactions. Not knowing the words was quite confusing and made me more nervous to proceed, even though I clearly understood the numbers. It was unusual, being able to distinguish half the text, but not the other. It’s also strange that this would make me so uncomfortable, because I wasn’t completely lost at these points, but still hesitant to trust my instincts as to what the words were. Perhaps this would be different on my phone, in which I know all the buttons and keyboards instinctively through greater use. I think if I was using my phone in Russian (other than browsing on the web, if that would also appear in Russian), I would be more comfortable and trustworthy of my predictions of the words.

After returning home and looking up the Russian language, I decided to do a little research. Russian is a Slavic-based language, while English is Germanic-based. Because of the different roots, many of the basic grammar and spelling rules are completely different, though some of the letters are similar. Many of the Eastern European languages are derived from the same Slavic roots. The written Cyrillic alphabet was created in 862 A.D. and was modified in the 13th century, the 18th century, and by the Communists in 1917. Though, since its roots, the language has undergone many other smaller and less direct changes. Here is a list of useful, and simple Russian terms. The first column is the Cyrillic spelling, the second column is the Russian spelling in the Arabic alphabet, and the third column is the English translation.

Здравствуйте- Zdrastvooyte- Hello

До свидания- Da sveedaneeya- Goodbye

Как поживаешь?- Kak pazhivayesh?- How are you?

Спасибо- Spaseeba- Thank you

Меня зовут…- Meenya zavoot…- My name is…

Я плохо говорю порусски- Ya plokha gavaryoo parooskee- My Russian is bad.

A Great Comparison of Russian and English Languages-

 http://esl.fis.edu/grammar/langdiff/russian.htm

Sources-

http://linguistics.byu.edu/classes/ling450ch/reports/russian.html

http://masterrussian.com/blbasic.shtml