"Economics of Energy and Sustainability,” Joe read from the course list displayed on the screen of his laptop. “Physiology of Insects… Physiology of Vertebrates. What useless courses! What’s wrong with that college in Port Moresby?” 

A large spider was creeping along beside him. Gently, Joe picked it up and let it run across the keyboard.

“They’re not offering me anything better,” said Bernadine, examining the list of electives of her laptop. “Here are my choices: Economy of Health Services… Theories of Nursing… Theories of Geriatric Nursing….”

“Geriatric nursing?!”

They both snickered. Average life expectancy in Yango Bay was somewhere in the sixties. Who needed geriatric nursing?

“I guess they’re being optimistic,” said Bernadine. “One day people will be living longer here, and they want to make sure there’ll be nurses to take care of the elderly.”

Bernadine’s attention wandered, and instead of choosing three courses, she found herself scrolling through the e-mails she’d received lately. Sara’le had written: I looking for a job, and I must to improve my English. Everybody want workers which know English. My dad bought me computer, and I practice English and typing.

Joe mentally reviewed the list of courses he’d completed in Port Moresby, New York, and Jerusalem, and made a mark in the damp earth for every credit point he’d accumulated so far. “And there was also that course I took in the agricultural institute,” he murmured to himself, adding another mark.

After all his calculations, there was still no escaping the fact that he and Bernadine needed at least three more courses to graduate with a bachelor’s degree. Bernadine would have to pass a government certification test as well.

But she was more interested in her e-mails from Sara’le at the moment. The next message said, My boys do not know nothing, but Rivky begins to guess.

“I can’t believe it. I lost a thousand dollars,” said Bernadine, pulling up a few blades of grass. “That’s how much the ultra-Orthodox Jews give to someone who makes a shidduch for them. I could have been rich! I thought of the idea so many times. That time in the middle of the night when her wound started getting infected, and the time she moved her arm the wrong way and I was sure she’d knocked all her implants out of place, and those long nights when she lay in bed, crying quietly. She was so lonely, and so good inside.”

“Itzik was lonely, too,” Joe remarked.

“Exactly!” said Bernadine. “That’s why I thought of matching them up. But I was too shy to say anything about it. If only I’d spoken up, I could have had a thousand dollars, Joe! How many kinas is that?”

“More than three thousand… Maybe I ought to go back to Jerusalem and be a matchmaker, instead of working here at the Ministry of Agriculture.”

(Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 714)