gap year in israel

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Dear parents,

The Aardvark Tel Aviv spring semester has reached its end. Yesterday most of the students flew home, others went to visit their families or for a short vacation before making Aliya to Israel, and some went to Jerusalem to prepare for the plus program as Madrichim in summer camps in the USA. It has been an exciting and emotional week, so for the last time, please let me share some highlights with you.

Last Shabbat evening, the students had a delicious Shavuot dinner in the Moadon. It was lovely to see them enjoying the holiday spirit and having a chag meal together. Due to the chag (Shavuot), we started the week late and Sunday was a holiday break.

On Monday we dedicate our morning to cleaning our apartments and packing our belongings. After a year/semester in Israel, the students have collected a lot of stuff. Therefore, most of the students filled donation boxes, which we will give to charity next week.

After a long day spent organizing the apartments, the students met with their Madrichim for their last activity together.

Sahar and Rebecca’s groups went to the beach to have a fun activity with body paint and a picnic. The body paint method was meant to illustrate the different ways they have affected each other over the past semester/year.

Daniela’s group went with me to a nice Asian kosher restaurant for a closing meal. During the meal we played some games in order to bring the experience to a conclusion for the group. For example, each group member had to pull a note from a jar and answer the question on it. Questions such as, “What was your biggest challenge?” and “What are you going to miss the most?” To conclude the evening each student had a few minutes with which to address the group. It was inspiring to hear how much they care for one other and how much they are going to miss the program.

Ilay’s group had something different for their final activity. After a conclusion talk, they went together to a stand-up show of Israeli comedians in English. It was a great experience for them, they had a great laugh together and also learned a bit more about Israeli humor.

On Tuesday, we continued the packing and cleaning process. We noticed that day that some of the students found the packing process to be very hard because it symbolized the end of the program. We did our best to support the students and after they were done with the apartments, we met at the beach for a fun time together. We sat together and enjoyed some snacks and fruits, we played guitar and sang together, took some pictures and spent time with our friends. It was wonderful to see the students cherish the time they had left with each other. Hugging, talking, and making plans to meet again in the near future. It was a nice change after cleaning and packing all morning.

In the evening we met for our closing activity in the Moadon – “The Aardvark Oscar Night!” A few days ago the students had to fill in a Google form and pick their friends for different award categories, such as the most punctual, the best cook, the messiest and so on… We took their picks and put them in an online voting site so that during the activity they could choose one student out of the four leading nominees to receive the awards. The students dressed up nicely and two of our own students (Juliana and Heidi) hosted the event.

It was an exciting, funny evening with a great atmosphere. We could tell by the students’ reactions to the different categories and all the different inside jokes that they know each other extremely well. To end the event we asked them to say a few words about their experience. One by one they stood up for short speeches saying kind words to each other and expressing their feeling at the end of the program. It was a beautiful night and a great closing event after a great semester.

Micha Stegers said, “Aardvark gave me more than friends, it gave me family, I’m going to miss you guys.”

Eliya Gelb said, “This past week saying goodbye to my best friends and clearing out my apartment was one of the hardest weeks I’ve had on Aardvark. I can truly say that this year has changed my life and I will never forget the time that I’ve had in Israel this year!”

On Wednesday morning the students met for a final breakfast together in the Moadon and started boarding taxies to the airport.

I would like to say that it has been an amazing ride here with your kids. Seeing them grow and take part in the daily activities, succeeding in their internships and volunteering places, learning Hebrew and classes for university credit, touring around Israel and learning so much about our beautiful country from the trips and the lectures. And the best thing was, seeing them having so much good time together while dealing with all kind of challenges on the program, forming a great bond and becoming an amazing group which eventually became a family.

Thank you all for your care and involvement in your child’s gap year; it has been a pleasure to be a part of their educational staff.