Where only first names appear, names have been changed to protect the identities of the sources. One day last February, Tony, a junior, skipped school and stumbled upon a dark blue Honda Civic in Wheaton. The car's unlocked doors beckoned to him, inviting him to come inside. As he approached the lonely vehicle he looked around to make sure no one was watching. Then, in what he refers to as a "spur-of-the-moment" decision, he jumped in, ripped open the console, hotwired the car and drove off to Wheaton Mall.
Sleep in. Watch TV. Play computer games. Meet up with friends. Raid the fridge. Talk on the phone. Go to sleep. Repeat.
It is 4 p.m. when the doors to the broken-down hospital swing open. Small children rush in and search for a spot on the dusty floor where they will spend the night. Within a few hours, the ground is completely covered in squirming bodies, and not one square foot of space remains vacant. This is no slumber party- it is the nightly survival technique of the youth of northern Uganda.
Only two red plastic cups are left standing on this late night in October, one at each end of the long kitchen table. Nathan, a senior, dips a ping-pong ball into the cup of water to his right as his opponents throw out drunken insults and the crowd of teenagers around the table eggs him on. As he draws up the ball and closes one eye to aim, the pressure is on.
As our bus pulls to a stop on this hot July day, I see my first real view of Jerusalem. Our madracha, Hebrew for counselor, quickly gives our group of 40 American teens a few reminders for our first day in Israel. Stay with a buddy, keep hydrated, be respectful - all things that I expect. But then she makes a request that I have not anticipated: "Please, for the next three weeks, do not wear any orange or blue."
Sodas exploded on third floor.