Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Language Partners Program

Today I met my language partner for the first time. We were paired up by the university to speak together in Hebrew and in English and to practice our languages together.
Dafna is in her fourth year studying computer science at Hebrew University. She is from Jerusalem and currently lives in an apartment with two roommates. She has a younger sister in the army and an older sister who is a pastry chef in Tel Aviv. Dafna's hobbies include seeing movies and juggling, and she is the president of the Hebrew University juggling club.
It is very hard to meet someone for coffee that you've been randomly matched with in order to form a friendship. We had to push hard to keep the conversation flowing. What music do you like to listen to? What movies do you watch? How do you like Jerusalem?
At the same time, we learned a lot about each other. Dafna never was in the army - she says that they told her that they didn't want her, so she spent a year working and juggling before going to school. She doesn't like school, but is a bit nervous about what comes next. She is very secular, has never been called to the Torah and isn't interested in Judaism at all. She has some cousins who were involved in a Reform community, but she seems to think that this was pretty strange. Dafna also told me that she has no friends who are religious, nor does she have any friends who are Arab. She then clarified for me, though, that she doesn't have that many friends to begin with, as she is pretty introverted. Dafna loves to travel, and after she graduates at the end of this year, she hopes to spend a few months travelling the world, couch surfing and sight seeing. She seems in some ways much more adventurous than I am, and in some ways much more conventional.
We'll meet every week, we think. We'll speak in English sometimes and in Hebrew sometimes. We are both excited at the possibility of getting to know one another - she says that it is hard to make friends outside of the world of computer science majors, and I am eager to make friends with a 'real' Israeli and leave the Anglo-bubble that is such a big part of my social life.
Nevertheless, can two people become friends just because they want to? Or does there have to be some kind of real shared interests between them? It seems to me that Dafna and I are very different, and that it might be hard to find topics to discuss for an hour every week. We'll see...

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