Monday, July 15, 2013

The start and end of MEET

This summer, I taught computer science for a program called MEET (Middle East Education through Technology). It is an NGO that recruits (and partners) with MIT to teach computer science and business to a group of students in Jerusalem, half of whom are Israeli and half of whom are Palestinian. The goal is to empower the students to bring forth social, political, and economic change to their region. Naive about the conflict in the Middle East but a seasoned traveler, I left my parent's house in New York with just two backpacks filled with nice clothes for teaching and crappy clothes for hiking later in the summer. 

I was filled with a mix of emotions - would the students fight with each other? Would I feel safe in the city? What would the MEET staff in the Middle East think of the naive MIT instructors? Would I be able to control a classroom filled with 17-year-olds (barely younger than me, barely older than my sister)? Would I even be able to teach the students any computer science in the midst of the conflict? Would I actually be able to help, or would I be wasting my time?

Turns out, the answers to all of my questions were astonishingly positive. 

The MEET 10-year celebration brought together a room filled with 600 people - mixed between Israelis and Palestinians (and of course the Americans that came to teach or support). The student's projects were phenomenal, and the atmosphere was one of positive change. Saying my goodbyes at the end of the ceremony, I felt like I truly was appreciated by the students. And I was proud of them for accomplishing so much. 

Now that the program is over, I am sitting and reflecting on a once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

I have been terrible about keeping up with my adventures this summer so far, but I am going back and blogging about them. Sorry for the delay.

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