ShnUpdate - Savyon 30.08.18

We are starting to get into the rhythm of Haifa - the port, the mountain, the beach, the buses, and those really loud trucks that come past our window every morning. We have just come to the end of our second week of volunteering, and our third in Haifa, so I guess you could say we’re *note: insert Haifa pun*. We’ve started growing pot plants in the flat, and got our first mature plant, a chilli plant called Dug Jewdy, whose chillies have twice graced our taste buds.

We spent our first kvutzah day (group day) in a very peaceful mood at the Bahai Garden, thanks to Nathan, which was a (literally) beautiful way to end the week. We learnt a lot about the Bahai religion, and the Gardens themselves. The Bahai Gardens is a terraced garden that runs up the Carmel Mountain, on which Haifa is situated. They house the second holiest place for the Bahai religion, the World Bahai Congress, and lots of stairs (we walked down 700 and were only about halfway).

On the weekend, Leigh, Nathan, and Jess went to visit family, bringing back several new chopping boards - very exciting. Jess also took out a piercing, leaving her with only three.

Volunteering: Michael L and Jess ran a very successful English program at Nitzan, where they volunteer. Nathan helped save food at a wholesale market, which for him was an eye opening experience because he saw first hand the amount of food wasted every day. Leigh had a great time joining Nathan at Robin food this week, because her normal placement did not run sessions this week. Michael S prepared the Neve David community centre for the new school year, and somehow convinced a few kids to trust him to run an English class for them next Sunday.

On Wednesday night we invited a communa (group) of scouts doing their year of service before the army for dinner. It was great to meet another group that has also just started in Haifa, and we look forward to spending more time with them. Some of the noar telem leaders, whom we led with on camp, have also just moved into Haifa - we're very excited to see them again.

At exactly 11:14 last night (Wednesday) all of our phones buzzed in unison. It was Tahlia, back again after her too-long trip to England, where she was leading on LJY summer camp. Her long awaited entrance shaped up to be everything we had hoped, until we noticed one thing:

Tahlia was wearing a hoodie and track pants.

It was thus amid cries of confusion and bewilderment that Tahlia was welcomed back to the flat.

We are really really glad to have Tahlia back, and can't wait to see Sal later today.

Tahlia, on her time leading:

Kadimah (LJY Summer camp) was an incredible experience. I learnt so much, not just about LJY-Netzer, but also about leadership in general. Leading the oldest age group, Chalutzim (fifteen year olds) definitely proved hard at first, with many of them starting off hesitant to engage with our more educational and ideological programs, but by the end, most of them seemed to enjoy having open discussions both during and outside of programs, which was really rewarding to see. Seeing the differences between Netzer Australia and LJY, as well as comparing it all to our experience on Noar Telem’s summer camp, was also really eye-opening. All in all, it was a very valuable few weeks, in which I made memories and friendships and that I will definitely remember and keep for years to come. Now commence my weekend of napping off three weeks of sleep deprivation and running off of adrenaline!

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Masa Gap Year programs offer college-bound high school graduates a year of valuable life experience before college, with Israel providing the perfect environment for them to explore their interests, identity, and future steps. Through a combination of academic coursework, volunteering, traveling, and an immersive experience in Israeli society, Fellows return home with the life skills to make the most out of their college experience. Learn more about Masa here.

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© 2016 Orit Sagi, Netzer Olami, Photography by Danit Ariel & Roy Elman