Monday, January 21, 2008

Upcoming and beyond

By the end of the week I'll be in New York, NY for a couple of days, getting acquainted with the GAPP Exchange Program that I inherited from the former German teacher at Enloe High. She worked hard to create the exchange with a school in Schwetzingen, German, who are looking forward to a visit this summer from a group of German students at Enloe. At their website, linked above, the Hebel Gymnasium has a nice log of their time spent in Raleigh North Carolina. It's in German, but any translator could render it in readable English for you, if interested. I'd recommend I am working hard to get things in place for this monumental visit. International travel I am familiar with, but carting and supervisors teenagers overseas I am not; regardless I am moving ahead. The kids who've expressed an interest in spending three weeks in Schwetzingen and German are excellent students, however, so I forsee no problems at all. The picture to your left is one I took the last time I was in New York, in 2004. Looking forward to another visit to that grand city.

So if I do go to Germany this summer, I'd probably skip again travelling to Ramallah, Palestine, which had consumed my summers of 2005 and 2006. Those were fantastic trips, but last summer of 2007 I chose to remain stateside, for various reasons. Travelling to that region, however rewarding it always has been, can be difficult for many Americans. An utter irony, given the fact that Israel, recipient of unimaginable financial and diplomatic largesse frm American taxpayers, controls the borders to the Palestinian territories. Click the picture to the right to see a short collection of photos I took of Ramallah, Jerusalem and Bethlehem in the Summer of 2005.

Speaking of that wretched part of the world, I take issue of course with our Secretary of State Condeleeza Rice pusing for a UN Security Council resolution against Iran's alleged nuclear program. Even after a National Intelligence Estimate concluding that Iran had halted its drive to acquire and develop nuclear weapons, America still wants to beat the drums of war against that Islamic Republic. All the while Israel maintains a squeeze on the open air prison that is Gaza and while Hamas hardcores continue to launch crude homemade missiles into southern Israel. I mean, how about a UN Security Council resolution demanding an end to the siege of Gaza's 1.3 millions Palestinians and an immediate start to negotiations that would result in a peace treaty between Gaza, the West Bank and Israel? Resolution to that age-old conflict would do more to strengthen our security than provoking Iran into a war with us. Clicking the picture to your left will lead you to a Yahoo! Slide show of the conflict in Gaza and southern Israel.

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