Tuesday, August 28, 2012

News from Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv from the air
Well, off to a slightly slower start than planned after that first post last week.  We took a mini vacation to Kos, Greece over the weekend for 3 nights.  I feel spoiled that with a one hour flight we can do that, but glad to take advantage of the opportunity, as that will be the last time I get on a plane for a few months, now that I am going into my 3rd trimester of pregnancy.  That is a whole additional topic for discussion which I will hopefully get to - my experience with healthcare here in Israel (spoiler alert:  they have excellent quality care, and the US has a lot to learn about taking care of ALL it's citizens).

I have also started a few posts with thoughts on my year in the environmental studies program, and will have to get back to that soon.

But I know at least a few Americans have asked me what the news is on the ground here regarding Iran.  I admit that I don't keep up on the media reports.  I'm not sure there's anything reliable in them anyway.  What I do hear comes from Israeli's.  It is definitely on everyone's mind, but I wouldn't say there is panic.  But concern is real, and it's based on news such as designated shelter announcements on the radio.  In fact, the hospital that we go to, Tel Aviv Medical Center, has reported that within days (maybe hours?)  they can sterilize and operate additional facilities out of their underground parking levels.  People have a (false?) sense of security in the bomb shelters we all have (ours is directly in our apartment, while older buildings have shared rooms, usually in basements).  There is a fair amount of speculation as to whether Israel will try to bomb the nuclear facilities in Iran.  If they do so, it will require the bunker-busting bombs from the U.S.  Of course, the U.S. official position is that they don't support such action.  So who knows what is happening behind closed doors.  In the meantime, life goes on more or less as usual here.  The consensus I hear from the Israeli's I know is that everyone hopes nothing happens - they don't want to start anything, and they hope Iran doesn't start anything.  Sounds good to me.  Let's all put our energy into constructive projects - there are plenty of great opportunities, starting in our own communities.

Monday, August 13, 2012

School is out!

Last Thursday I turned in my last paper, for my last class, for the inaugural year of the International Masters in Environmental Studies at the Porter School at Tel Aviv University.  Our graduation ceremony is this Thursday evening.  Then it is on to new things for me.  One of those new things will be an attempt to re-commit myself to blogging.  I have plenty of content from this year of study to share.  Please let me know if you want to hear more or less about anything in particular as I jump back in.

The top photo is of the Dan David building on campus, where I spent at least 10 hours per week in classes (we generally spent about 16-18 hours per week in class all year). This is a bare-bones building full of classrooms for a variety of programs with those old style desks that are attached to the chairs.  But at least it wasn't portables!  When we were lucky, we got upgraded to the Gilman building, the temporary home of the program, while they wait for the first LEED certified building on campus to be built for the program (scheduled to be completed next year).  

The lower photo is a set of signs as you enter campus from the security gates, with the Gilman building in the background.  This photo was taken back in March.  The Iris is the official flower of the University.  By the time such flowers were blooming in the U.S., these had come and gone. 

Can you read the signs?  With the addition of their many new english language programs, the university has additional work to do in the communications department.