Ashley Virgin
Ashley Virgin
Israel/Palestine 2016
Merhaba! My name is Ashley Virgin, and I am going to live in beautiful Bethlehem, Israel for six months. While in Bethlehem, I will work with WI’AM Conflict Resolution and Transformation Center where I will teach English and arts classes to children. I will also take part in other areas of community development in the city through WI’AM. I am excited to participate in the city and culture of Bethlehem and learn more about the nonviolent conflict resolution and social justice programs that WI’AM sponsors. Read More About Ashley →

Part 2!

It is surreal to be traveling again. As I write, I’m sitting in the JFK airport with a more than 8-hour layover before my flight to Tel Aviv. Yep, I’m going back!! After more than seven weeks of wires, doctor’s and dentist’s appointments, smoothies, healing, jaw stretching, travel insurance claims submissions, and all things Nashville, I’m finally on my way back to Bethlehem to pick up where I left off. I never thought I would have to make this journey twice, never have to pack, say goodbye to my friends and family, go through TSA body scans and long layovers TWICE, but here I am. It’s amazing the lengths you will go to when you truly feel connected to a place and issue. Palestine is my place and I can’t wait to reunite with my organization, host family, and home away from home.

I was completely “unwired” only a week ago today (They took off the arch bars wrapped around my teeth and along the gum line). I have the okay to finally start chewing anything I want and feel up to, jaw and teeth permitting. Both are a real concern when I eat now. I can open fairly wide, after two weeks of stretching exercises involving stacks of tongue depressors. I’m not back to 100% just yet. My broken teeth are pretty sensitive, too, but nothing a little Sensodyne isn’t able to numb. Except for the most crunchy foods, like chips or hard candy, I can eat just about anything now which is amazing when I think about how much progress that is from an all liquid diet. I’ll get caps and one dental implant when I get back to the US in February.


Wasn’t joking about those tongue depressors

Oh, I’ve also pushed back my return date. I will be in Bethlehem for three more months, until February 1st. I’ll be ringing in 2017 in Palestine! In total, I’ll only be spending 5 months in Bethlehem and not 6 as I had originally planned. But at this point, I am just happy to have the chance to go back.

I’m ready to transition out of my limbo period in Nashville, but it’s hard to say goodbye again, too. I had a rough time coming home in September. The recovery was lengthy, painful and it really took a toll on my mental status. I was also disappointed and stressed over my internship and Bethlehem, the things I was missing out on, and how I would be able to get back. In my worst times, my Nashvillians were there for me. ~direct address here because I’m emotional, sorry~ You guys took so much care of me over the past two months, both with the jaw and with processing my feelings. Thank you, thank you, a million and one hugs.

I didn’t think it was possible, but I feel even more support and love from you guys in this second leg of my journey than I did the first time I left. Next time you all see me, it will be in a much more celebratory spirit, I promise.


For Halloween, I dressed up as what everyone back home imagined I looked like when I told them I had broken my jaw. It was a hit.

As cliché as it is to use the phrase, “Home is where the heart is,” it’s all I can think about right now. My heart is in two places now. Leaving Nashville is weighing more heavily on my heart this time than it did the first go around. However, it may only feel that way because I’m no longer masking the homesickness with general traveling anxieties. The first time, I was more nervous about the logistics of traveling alone, relocating outside of the US, and starting my internship. This time, I am much more calm about traveling. I’m coming back to my apartment, my internship, my friends, all familiar now. Now that I’m accustomed to both places, I can process my emotions for both places more clearly. I know what lies ahead and behind me, and both tug at my heart.

So what’s going to happen next? What is Christmas in Bethlehem like? What are my next steps at Wi’am? Start checking back in weekly to follow me on the remainder of my journey.

Fingers crossed I don’t break anything else. 🙂



R.I.P. MY WIRED JAW September 12th-October 31st, 2016


One thought on “Part 2!”

  1. Excited for you to get back to your project! (Hamdulilah!) Your posts have been so great thus far, and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next. Safe travels!

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