Friday, September 9, 2011

Random highlights from the past week, by blogger of the month Chris Brown

Sunset in Be-er Sheva

Bartering in the Old City
                Earlier in the week I got the opportunity to go to the old city to do both a little bit of exploring and to look for a bike to make getting around a little easier. The beginning of the day started out slowly with coffee and a nice conversation with one of my roommates, after which we decided to go look for bikes in the old city. Upon navigating the public transit system we ended up a little ways from our destination and fortunately stumbled upon the shook, the large open air market. Seeing all the booths filled with fresh fruit, vegetables, honey, meat, fish, and almost anything else you could think of was amazing. The sweet smell of mangos and apples combined with the earthy smell of nuts provided a pleasant background to the busy hubbub of people carrying out their daily errands and customers haggling with vendors trying to get a better price.
                After going through the shook, we ventured out into the old city in search of the bike shop, only to be sidetracked into having a rather large and delicious lunch of kebabs and vegetables with an assortment of enjoyable sauces and of course, the always wonderful hummus. After all the moving of the previous week, a large meal was definitely appreciated.
                Pushing through the inescapable food coma, we set out in search of the bike shop, only to find it had closed early. We ended up going through a market street where I got to practice my bartering skills in order to buy some sheets for my bed.  It turned out to be not so bad, from my prior experience of bartering in Senegal, though I started out too high with my counter offer and we all too quickly agreed on a price. I walked away a bit dissatisfied but I learned that you should never counter with something you’re not willing to pay and if it’s worth that much to you, you’ve made a good purchase. Soon after passing through the street market we started our way back home. Unfortunately we hadn’t achieved our goal to which we had set out but it was a meaningful and memorable trip nonetheless.

Chicken rings and Biochemistry.

Chicken Rings and Biochemistry
                Biochemistry can be fun but with chicken rings, it’s euphoric… The amount of information that we are going over is impressive. Study groups have proved to be an important tool in deepening our understanding of material and have given us an opportunity to apply the material used in class with sample questions. Usually during study groups, a break is taken and this involves some sort of food, and sometimes that food is chicken rings. You might ask “What exactly is a chicken ring?”, “How do they get the chicken in the shape of a ring?”, “Why would you want chicken in the shape of a ring?”, “Who started this?”, or “Can that really be healthy?” Rather than asking such questions, I choose to focus on the fact that they are oddly delicious. So, while we are learning about affinity and kinetics of enzymes in relation to competitive and noncompetitive inhibition, we can stuff our faces with pureed chicken formed into the shapes of rings. What could be better?

Ol' Trusty

Whole class coming to help a friend
                Earlier in the week, a person in our class unfortunately became part of an elite club; few people have the opportunity to join, “People who have been hit by a car”. The important thing is that she is okay and surrounded by a caring group of people that are there to help her through this process and make sure that she is not going through this alone. As if she didn’t have enough to worry about going through medical school and being away from friends and family, she now has to deal with health issues and possibly legal issues as well. She has a long road ahead of her but it will be accompanied by friends there to support her.  Looking at the bright side of this situation, it allowed her to gain a very useful insight that few people, especially doctors, have the opportunity to experience; being able to be a patient and undergo the stress and fear of being sick or hurt. Her ability to relate and empathize to future patients in such circumstances will far outweigh that of most health care workers. Additionally on the lighter side of being hurt, we were able to wheel her around in what must have been the oldest wheelchair in all of Be’er Sheva, something that looked straight out of a WWI hospital ward on Thursday when she came back to classes (see picture). She kept a good outlook and sense humor about the situation. Having so many people in the class come to her aid makes me proud to be part of this class and really demonstrates the quality of the people in this program.

Meeting up with other RPCVs
                During the past week I got the opportunity to meet up with a few Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) for a dinner to share stories and experiences from our service and our current lives in Be’er Sheva. It was really nice getting the opportunity to see how similar a lot of our experiences were, even though we all had served in many different areas of the world, plus we got to eat delicious enchiladas. It is nice to be part of a community so quickly after moving here, though we didn’t get to talk about gastrointestinal issues, a common topic amongst Peace Corps Volunteers, but hopefully next time.
                After another successful week here, with the many surreal aspects that have transpired, I look forward to the coming week and  many more surreal moments that make up life here in Be’er Sheva. Alright, well, off to some more studying and hopefully taking a break to finish fixing the washer. - blogger of the month Chris Brown