As a volunteer English teacher in Israel, I recently took a class trip to Caesarea, the picturesque coastal city scattered with Roman ruins. The tour was conducted entirely in Hebrew and I was thrilled that I understood so much of it. Yet, that didn’t stop me from joking and chatting with the students in English throughout the trip. I was amazed that visiting a historical site with 2,000-year-old ruins constitutes an ordinary field trip in Israel. After almost five months in Israel, I've stopped being surprised by things that would be out of the ordinary in other places.
I came to Israel for the first time four years ago on Birthright. I loved it and knew I had to return the first chance I had. After graduating from Carleton University with a degree in Public Affairs and Policy Management, I decided to head to Israel through Masa Israel Journey. I am so glad I kept my word.
As one of nine volunteers with Oranim’s Community Involvement program, I have spent the last five months living in Ness Ziona, a small community outside of Tel Aviv, and volunteering as an English teacher at a local middle school. One of my favourite activities with the students is interpreting fairy tales and presenting them to the class, which I did with grade 7 students.
Before this experience I never realized how much I would enjoy working with students. Even though I do not plan on becoming a teacher, I know that I want to continue working with children from this age group because they are so full of creative energy.
Teaching older students is more challenging because it is harder to make an impression on them. However, it is very rewarding when we do manage to impress them, as we did when we assigned them a MadLibs activity and led a debate in English.
Aside from becoming part of the Ness Ziona community through my teaching, I have had the opportunity to become close to my mishpacha ma’arahat (host family). Not only have they given me extra support while in Israel, but they have welcomed the other eight Oranim volunteers into their home as well.
My host parents’ seven-year-old son, Lotem, is the best Hebrew teacher I have ever had. We only speak in Hebrew and he is not afraid to correct my mistakes. His family has never been to Canada but they told me that a future trip there is inevitable. Hosting them in Canada is the least I can do, considering the amazing trips, meals, and genuine care they have provided me with over the past few months.
Living in Israel has brought the kinds of challenges and joys that I could never have experienced on a short trip. Though I will soon leave Israel to begin law school at the University of Toronto, I know that I will always be looking for an excuse to return. With my new family and friends, those excuses won’t be hard to find.