Weekly Updates – Tel Aviv September 12, 2019
The second week of our semester has come to an end and after two busy weeks of activities and traveling, it seems as though our students have come together and have already made really close friendships with one another, which of course contributes to the amazing vibes we are feeling.
As promised, each week I will send you an email detailing the past week’s highlights. Let’s get started:
Sunday: We met at our offices for various important sessions designed to help our students adjust better to life in Israel and Tel-Aviv.
The first session was about getting to know the business culture of Israel. The lecturer, Osnat Lautman, author of the book “Israeli Business Culture”, explained the different and unique qualities of Israeli culture to the students, how they can use it them their advantage and how they can leverage the differences between their own culture and Israeli culture.
The two other sessions dealt with details of how to maximize the internship and volunteering process, and provide helpful tips for daily life in Israel and in particular in Tel-Aviv, such as useful apps to download, good and cheap places to eat, places to travel to, etc.
Also, our sea sport group went to their first surfing lesson in the beach.
After these sessions, the students returned to their apartments to prepare for the evening activity. After everyone had cleaned their apartments, our “madrichim” met the students in their apartments for an apartment activity.
Monday: We started bright and early with the first Ulpan (Hebrew) lessons. After class, the students started their first day of internships/volunteering! Some of your children had an amazing learning experience interning with some of the best startups, schools, local businesses, NGOs, etc. Later that day, after finishing their internships/volunteering, the students began attending their academic classes such as Middle Eastern Politics, Introduction to Business, Zionism One on One, and more
Essence Slomianski said, “Most of my friends are studying at traditional colleges, but I’m not worried about missing out. I feel as though I am learning just as much in the classroom and even more when it comes to real life skills. Even though it’s only week two on my Aardvark adventure, the classes have already introduced me to a new way of thinking. I love that the classes are interactive and discussion based. We are able to debate and share our different opinions. Our teachers really care about what we want to learn and do an excellent job at keeping us engaged. I am so excited to see how the classes will continue to evolve through the year. “
On Monday night, the program took place in an optional action room activity. The group was split into seven separate teams that competed in order to determine who the true Aardvark action room champions were. In the action room game, every room has a different obstacle can only be solved through teamwork. The students didn’t know what to expect as they went from room to room. This was the fun part of our activity. The students greatly enjoyed the activity and they are looking forward to their next Monday night activity.
The students left the activity very tired but also very satisfied 🙂 The winning team will get ice cream with their Madrich.
Tuesday morning, we began the day at the Nadiv Gardens, which are amazing botanical gardens planted in honor of Baron Rothschild and his family. There, the students walked around the beautiful rose garden, water fountains, herbs garden, watched a short movie about the history of the place and the story of one of Israel’s very first settlements. Later, we continued into the town of Zichron Ya’akov. In order to make the tour more personal for the students, we began our visit there with an activity in which the students had to imagine themselves as the first pioneers in this colony. Each group had a dilemma to face and then had to share their solution with the group. After the activity, our tour guide walked us through the old roads and secret paths of the old settlement while providing everyone with fascinating information about the hard life that the settlers had to live in order to achieve the easy and comfortable life that we have today. During the tour, the students received the answers to the dilemmas they were set in the different locations we visited. In the end, the students had some free time to walk around the Midrachov in Zichron Ya’akov, which is known for its beautiful art galleries, and have lunch at one of the local restaurants or cafes.
After the great visit at Zichron, we continued to a nearby kibbutz called “Maagan Michael”. After learning about the difficulties of the first Aliya, in the kibbutz we learned how the people of the second Aliya built a socialist society, which is how the kibbutz operates until this very day. On the tour, we saw how all of the kibbutz members co-live and share a laundromat, dining hall, children’s home etc. We ended the tour at one of the most beautiful beaches in Israel, which is located right inside the kibbutz. This tour was a great way to start the semester and a great memory for everyone to remember for many years.
This week we had our opening Parsha and Pizza session of the semester. These weekly sessions are geared toward enabling an open and welcoming environment for the students to ask any questions that come to mind regarding Jewish life and practice. Among the topics addressed this week: the concept of God, how the different denominations of Judaism help shape our 21st lives as Jews, and Tattoos in Jewish thought.
Noa Niv said, “My first motive for going to parasha and pizza was the free dinner, but as I walked in and met the rabbi running the evening, my opinion of the night completely changed. We had the opportunity to ask questions that interested us about Judaism and politics and engage in an open discussion. It was a great chance to not only go into depth about urging subjects but to also get to know my aardvark peers better.”
On Wednesday, we started again with an Ulpan class, and it seems that the students are getting the hang of their routine. After class, our students went to their volunteering and internship placements and when they came back, we heard from many of the students how excited about their internships.
Samuel Abady said, “I love my internship. I get to pursue what I love and get better at my craft. I don’t even feel like I’m at work.”
In the evening, we had a terrific program about the Israeli map. At first glance, it might seem like an easy discussion to have, but as we delved into the details, it became apparent that it was more complicated than it first seems. For many people, both tourists and citizens, understanding the history of the land and the borders, from the age of bible through to the age of the establishment of the Jewish state, can be difficult and confusing. During the evening, by using an interactive method and an actual map floor, which is created during the program, we explored Jewish history, the history of Israel and the region, and the various sides in the contemporary conflict in the Middle East. During the program, we discussed critical events of Jewish and Zionist history and examined them from a variety of perspectives.
On Thursday morning, we started two more courses. “Faces of Israel”, a course that relates to our evening programs, and “Currents Events”, a course that gives our students the opportunity to stay up to date with daily events in the news and the country. After class, some of our students went to volunteer on a nearby beach in Tel Aviv. There, the students learned about the dangers of leaving rubbish on our lovely beaches and they had the chance to take part in cleaning the beach.
In order to conclude the week, our Madrichim had short meetings with all of their apartments in which they reviewed the schedule for next week and informed the students about activities offered to them over the weekend. This week we will have an optional Kiddush dinner on Friday night.
Internship in the spotlight Carolina Hirshfield – Challenge 22 “I’ve grown up working with and loving animals my whole life, so when I heard that Aardvark was going to an animal rescue shelter, I was thrilled! Being able to connect with the dogs and interact with them so that both the volunteers and the dogs get the most out of the experience was fascinating. I really enjoyed running with my dog because gave me a feeling of comfort that I really was making a difference in his life, no matter how small. What’s even more enriching is that I get to connect this experience to my new internship at Challenge 22, which challenges people to become vegan, proving that my love for animals didn’t end after leaving the shelter. Working at Challenge 22, especially as a longtime vegan, gives me an even greater feeling of purpose by supporting those who choose to become vegan and speaking up for the animals that can’t.”
Next week, we will have an amazing activity called “Herzel Said”, which is an incredible game in the streets of Tel Aviv that will help those sharing an apartment to bond as a group.
The Madrich on call for this weekend is Gil.
Until next week,