My name is Donna Shashoua and I am from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Next year, I will attend Barnard College in New York. I chose to do a gap year program in Israel because I wanted to experience life in this country. Both of my parents are Israeli and I visit every year, but I never had the opportunity to live here. Now, I hope to connect even more to this amazing place and experience life as a true Israeli. After being here for a little more than a month, I already feel so much more connected to the language, culture, and people, and I can’t wait to see how much more I learn here.
One of my favorite parts of the program so far is the volunteering. I volunteer at an elementary school in Florentine called Droyanov. Every day, we take the native English speakers from either second or third grade during their English classes and work to improve their skills. This gives the school a huge amount of help because there is only one English teacher for many students of different levels. By working with the English speakers separately, both they and the non-native speakers are at an advantage. We work with them on letters, reading, and speaking. I can’t wait to see how much the students will improve by the end of the semester!
Another part of the program that I love is Tiyul Tuesdays. The trips that we go on every week teach me so much about Israel and its history, which was something I really wanted to learn more about when deciding to come to Israel. This week, we went to the Palmach Museum. I had only a basic knowledge about the Palmach, so this trip gave me so much more information to take in. The museum was both informative and interactive. I feel like after going to this museum, I can have a full conversation about who the Palmach were and what they did, something which I couldn’t have done before.
One more thing that I love about this program is all the people I’ve met. I’ve met people from all over the world and learned more about different Jewish cultures and communities around the world. For instance, I’ve met people from Switzerland, Italy, Australia, Mexico, and of course from multiple different states in America. Everyone on this program is so amazing, and I know I’ll keep in touch with many people even after we leave Israel.
Although its only been a month here in Israel, I have an amazing time. I can’t wait to see what else is to come!