Friday, January 1, 2010

A Tale of Two Fulbrights (or what a difference 20 years makes)

Looking out over our neighborhood this morning, I was struck by the solar panels on the all the apartments. 20 years ago, I participated in a Fulbright teacher exchange. I taught for a year in Bad Bergzabern, Germany, about 80 km due north of Strasbourg, France. Just prior to leaving for Israel, I received an e-mail from a group of those Bergzabern students celebrating their 20 year school reunion. Google enabled them to re-establish a long-lost contact. My technology that year consisted of three types of equipment. The local bookstore had a teacher discount on photocopies, the school janitor knew the location of the "ditto" machine and would make copies of tests only, and I carried a Mac desktop and printer in their own custom designed cases. The cases were so sturdy, I still have them in an attic in Portland. I also carried plug adapters and power converters to make sure everything hummed. That little ImageWriter II printer certainly saw plenty of duty that year. Fast forward to this year. Pam, Noa, and I arrived in Israel with 4 laptops, 5 ipods, 2 digital still cameras, a Flip video camera, a digital voice recorder, 6 cell phones, and all of the cables, batteries, external mice, chargers, mics, etc to make this stuff work. All of this tech stuff weighed less than the two pieces I carried to Germany. We even carry our own power strip which accepts all types of plugs (I recommend this to all who travel!) Adapters are everywhere, both our B&B and Jerusalem apartment are loaded with them, but most devices only require adapters, no converters needed. The Gymnasium in Bad Bergzabern had a computer lab which consisted of small monitors, heavy equipment, and little software. The computer lab in Israel at Mofet consisted of state of the art desktops, flat screen monitors, ergonomically designed computer desks and task chairs, all seamlessly connected to the world. Every Israeli over the age of 10 carries a cell phone, most with data plans. Many Israelis are now carrying two phones, one for work, and one personal. The question running through my mind right now is it is easy to see how technology has changed from the last Fulbright to this one. Solar panels on the roofs are a testament to the idea that housing has changed. But, how has teaching changed in the intervening 20 years?

1 comment:

  1. You make me chuckle and remember when we traveled just a few years ago... sans laptops, cell phones, and just one ipod charger for 3 vintage ipods.

    Times have certainly changed!