Hi everybody, my name is Shira Vilvovsky. I was born in Israel, however since the age of four, I have lived in the Greater Boston Area (Go PATS!!), which is why I chose to come back to Israel and spend a year here as an adult. Though I still have a semester to go in Jerusalem, I learned so much last semester in Tel Aviv. The first thing I learned how to do is grocery shop and cook! Back home, my main meals consisted of cereal and milk and the occasional pasta and jar marinara sauce. Now I’ve learned how to make things like chicken tikka masala, my favorite meal, or chicken teriyaki, homemade pizza, and Georgian Khachapuri. I have also learned how to clean and be productive and also how to stand up for my own needs in a communal environment. All of which comes when you live with other people. My Hebrew has also improved enormously. I used to be unable to even read, and now I can make out letters and understand words here and there, once I even managed to get home in a cab using just Hebrew!
Not only that, but last semester I was able to learn a bit about the business world at my internship, which was at Wedding Fair TLV. They brought the western concept of wedding fairs here, where brides and grooms come and meet vendors to hire for their own wedding. I saw what the marketing and decision-making process looked like when it came to event planning and business management. This semester I’m having a lot of fun volunteering at the Lone Soldier Center. I have only worked there a week, but have already learned so much about Lone Soldiers and their needs and got to meet some amazing people. I’m having a great time with the Sherut Leumi girls. These girls chose to do national service instead of the army for various reasons, so they are about my age and they work full time at the Lone Soldier Center. It’s been really nice hanging out with them and getting to know them at work. Already everybody there has made me feel welcome, and I enjoy coming in every day. It’s also really meaningful to be able to contribute and help the IDF.
The tiyuls that we have taken so far are amazing, the speakers that have come have been so fascinating, and I have tried to come to every optional Monday activity because they are always so much fun! Some highlights: Museum of the Blind, Segway tour through the Old City of Jerusalem, a talk from Gonen Ben-Itzhak – the man who convinced the son of a Hamas leader to spy for Israel, an Ethiopian culture trip, going to the border of the Gaza strip, visiting Kibbutz Ketura, the Sea of Galilee, the Yitzhak Rabin Museum, and much much more!
I’ve also been fortunate enough to find activities outside of Aardvark, which allowed me to meet a lot of amazing people who are locals or made Aliyah, etc. Last semester I found a public Improv English group that met once a week, and I really enjoyed going there. This semester, I am doing a madrich (counselor) training course to go to a Russian speaking country and be a madricha. I’ve met so many amazing people, and it’s great that I have managed to have time for these activities even with the work, classes, and tiyulim that I have with Aardvark.
I’m looking forward to the next five months and the adventures it brings!