My name is Raphael Leo Leon, but I usually just go by Raphi. Given the fact that from 11-18, I went to a school called City of London School, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that I am from London, where I have lived my whole life. And yes, this does mean that one of the first things people notice about me is my British accent (a good or bad thing, I’ll let you decide).
For me, taking a gap year is about giving myself the opportunity to understand myself and my goals better, pursue my passions and develop life skills away from the often-stressful, exam-orientated environment of school. After the trip I had planned for the summer of 2020 never took place, I was keen to come to Israel and ensure this special country has a place in my story. I was drawn to Aardvark Israel because of the balanced programme it offers – the chance to develop employability skills through exciting internships tailored to your interests, take interesting courses for the sake of learning, experience the beauty of Israel on weekly tiyulim (trips), and get to grips with independent living with the support of madrichim. Of course, there’s also plenty of time to make friends and have fun!
I intern at Gigawatt Global, a renewable energy company that develops solar power projects in sub-Saharan African countries to support their development in a sustainable way. The work I am doing there is fascinating, and it is fantastic to be helping a company that does such positive work to bring to life its vision for a better future. Once Aardvark has finished (although that’s not something I want to think about too much for now!) I will be going to the University of Warwick to study Philosophy.
Fun fact: I have a nerdy interest in the London Underground – if you’re ever in town, I can help you navigate the network and find some of its niche quirks!