gap year in israel

Shalom Parents!

The students are about to finish their first week on Aardvark!
According to the students, every day felt like a whole week because of the busy schedule we had.

We started the first day at 5:20 am at the airport to welcome the first arriving students. A day full of excitement, worries, introductions and a fresh start for everyone!

On the first night, I spoke to the group. I started by asking “why are you here?!?”
I got a variety of answers. Some said that they are here to straight up their minds before starting collage, some said they are here to expose themselves to a new culture. Harrison Fridman shared with us that he grew in a small city with a very small Jewish community. He said that he decided to come here in order to discover his roots. Julia Heineman shared with us that she has been to Isreal a few times before, but never immersed in as much as she wanted to. So she chose to be here in order to explore and find herself here – Feeling more like a local!
Through the talk I gave the students some ideas of how they should shape and design their first semester. I hope that they have embraced at least some of the ideas.

Right after the Madrichim started an introduction activity. the students filled a bingo about each other followed by a guessing game about the madrichim. We (and I say we because I also dicovered some new facts) discovered some very interesting facts about them!

On Tuesday, After an amazing food tour through the Levinski Market. The students met in their apartments to decide how they will budget their money for grocery shopping, cleaning supplies etc. They had to make decisions about what they will buy together and what separately, how often will they go shopping and what will be the general stuff that they will buy to the apartment, How many times will they eat outside every week etc.

Later on that day, the students chose one between a bike tour and a grafitti tour. both were pretty amazing – attcahed are the pictures from both you can see for yourself.

On Wednesday, the Tel Aviv students came together with the Jerusalem group for the first overnight trip in the Golan Heights. On the first day, we did a water hike in the Kibbutzim Stream. The water was up to our chests and I can say proudly that no one was crying or complaining about that! They were splashing and laughing (unfortunately, we still don’t have a waterproof camera so, no pictures from there…).
By evening time, our traditional rivalry between Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem was in play. (We were better! – a lot thanks to Aaron Banson that was almost involved in all of the missions and so into winning!). By the end of the rivalry, each madrich took his students without saying a lot, outside of our guest house right by the Kinneret. There, was waiting a fire sign of “Aardvark”. This was the official welcome to the Aardvark family. Each student got an Aardvark shirt and by the end we all sang the national anthem of Israel – “Hatikva”.
By that time we thought that the students was exhausted so we “offered” to those who wanted to, to be part of the last activity we called – “Dyadic Encounters” surprisingly (Or not) everyone did it! We paired the students and gave them a sheet with interesting questions about their life. Ask your child who was his partner on the dyadic encounter and how was it – it seems very significant to all of them!

Soon the students will arrive to the office for a volunteering workshop in which they will need to deal with simulations of a daily day issues that might come up related to the gap between the cultures, expectations, communications issues etc.
Right after that the Madrichim will take the students to the “Carmel” shuk (Market) to teach them how we bargain here. they will need a big good luck!

We still have a great weekend planned ahead of us and a lot to experience. I hope that students will make the most out of it!

Attached is the schedule for next week

Shabbat Shalom!

Gap year in israel - aardvarkisrael