Back to School

Our remaining days in Sydney had a "Back to School" theme to them. I, as a person who was never fond of the idea of school, feel that I am the wrong person to be describing this experience. Orit, on the other hand, was completely lit-up when these visits came upon us, and this is reflected by the many pictures she photographed in the educational places we were in.

I will, therefore, describe these happenings only briefly. I have already asked Orit to write a few words regarding these places, so that they will get the documentation they deserve, but don't hold your breath on it. Chances are Orit will choose to remain with her preferred medium, photography.

In any case, the second week in Sydney started with Barak taking us to see the University of Sydney. It is a place filled with impressive old-style houses

with impressive gargoyles such as this lion

and silly gargoyles such as this, whatever it is.

That day, Barak also took us to see the neighborhoods where he and Na'ama lived before Cremorne, the local flee-market, tens of second-hand book-shops, and one good Spanish restaurant, where I lost a second hat I brought with me to this trip.

The next day, we came to see Na'ama at work. She works in a Jewish school.

Orit was amazed at all the accessories and the beautiful learning environment. I was mainly hungry. I sat down in one of the kids play areas where they had a drawing-with-colored-pins toy and drew a sketch of Ronald McDonald. Go ahead, call me psychotic.

The school is located in the midst of a quiet suburb of Sydney (we got there by train) and on the way through the suburb what you mainly pass through is a Chinatown of sorts. As we were hungry, on the way back we stopped both for shopping in a Chinese grocery and to eat in a Chinese diner. Let me say just one word regarding Chinese food here: if you, like I, believe that green peas is not a suitable taste for ice-cream, never try to eat authentic Chinese desserts.

It was four days later, almost our last day in Sydney, that Orit decided to take a bus and visit Currambena Primary School and Preschool, something she's been meaning to do ever since we started planning this trip to Australia. Currambena is a democratic school in the heart of Sydney, and Orit wanted to see it, to see how the idea of democratic education lives outside of Israel.

I did not join her for this visit, for reasons that will be explained in the next section, but she came back with many photos, and with the air of someone who just had a revelation. As I was not there, all I can offer you are some selected pictures. More pictures of this and other school visits can be found in the gallery.

Our last back-to-school experience came much later, when we came back to Sydney at the end of our trip. Na'ama took us to see the place where she studies, COFA, a small campus that is part of the university of New South Wales dedicated to art.

Though we had a great time there, the most memorable experience from the place was a short visit to a class where, evidently, only a few minutes earlier people were painting a model. When we came in, no model was there. We only saw this podium

where she, apparently, was sitting prior to the lunch break.

What was fascinating about this experience is that all around the room were these amazing pictures that were drawn by the people in the class, and no two are alike. All drew the same model, and yet, after viewing all of them it is still impossible to answer elementary questions such as "was she young or old?", "fat or skinny?", "beautiful or hideous?". View the gallery and judge for yourself.

P.S., we didn't ask permission from any of the painters before photographing their work and putting it on this web-site. If any one of these artists contacts us and asks us to take the pictures off, we will, of course.