Support, love and engage
This article was written by Emma and Amos, members of the B'nai B'rith Youth Organisation (BBYO) who are spending their Gap Year in Israel with UJIA Israel Experience.
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So here's an update of what we've been up to so far...Right now we're living in the north of Israel where we're volunteering in local communities. Sophia and Sam are teaching English at the local high school. Naomi and Amos are at the elementary school also teaching English to little children... Emma and Eli have joined them and left the kindergarten in order to experience other aspects of the Israeli education system. All our volunteering work is very successful and rewarding and we spend many a lunch time sharing our experiences from that morning.
On Thursdays, we volunteer at Nahariya Hospital, doing something different and exciting every week. So far we have worked in the security department where we received our own uniforms to help us look the part and are learning how the hospital deals with its daily routine. We worked in the kitchens and baked hamantashon and cookies (yum) for Purim when we will be dressing up as clowns to cheer up sick children. We also learnt CPR which will help the future Magen David Adom students in the group.
Next up is a very important issue... our grasp of the Hebrew language. Every Sunday and Monday afternoon we stroll into the community centre, eager to learn. We look forward to our interactive lessons, for example, we baked a cake whilst learning the Hebrew for the ingredients and have learnt a number of Israeli songs. We believe we are making great progress and can string many sentences together.
Following this, we have a fascinating Tuesday morning provided by the wonderful educator, Neil Lazarus. He teaches us not only about Israeli politics and history, but also how to speak sensibly about all sides of the situation in Israel on university campuses and life in general. He has also taught us many techniques on how to become effective public speakers. One of our other projects in Shlomi is painting with the assistance of Sipa and some of the youth of Shlomi. We are creating some pretty paintings to go up in the kindergarten and decorating the community centre's mobile classrooms with mosaics.
Finally, every Wednesday is our enrichment day which consists of many trips around the Galil and local borders. Our first guide was the fabulous Jeremy Aron who provided us with an inspirational history of Israel, taking us to many exciting sites all over the north of Israel. For example we visited Monfort, a crusader fort located in the heart of the Ksiv Valley. We've also been to Haifa, the Kinneret and a Druze home, amongst many others. Sadly, we had to say our goodbyes to Jeremy, but were pleased to meet our new guide, Yaron, who will carry on teaching us about the local region. So far with Yaron we learnt about the crusaders and visited the tiny village of Kalil, an eco-friendly community whose residents protect the environment through their everyday living.
So that's about it, busy or what?! We are all having a fantastic and memorable experience here in the Holy Land and are looking forward to sharing our time here with you. We're all gaining important life skills and enjoy travelling all over Israel on our free weekends.
Emma and Amos, BBYO Gap Year participants