I was thrilled to get more involved with the Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership as part of my McDonogh High School senior project. Last summer, I traveled to Israel through the Diller Teen Fellows program and made many friendships in Ashkelon that continue to remain strong. I chose to return to Ashkelon for my project because it represents my extended community in Israel.
Upon my arrival in Ashkelon, I reunited with my Diller host, Tali Rozenson, and her family. I was very excited to spend a week with them. I truly felt as though I returned to my home away from home.
While Tali was in school, I worked as an English teaching assistant at two different schools – one secular and one Modern Orthodox. Not knowing exactly what to expect, I was assigned to a classroom full of eager children. I had to quickly find a way to teach them despite the language barrier. With the younger kids, I came up with number games and would point to different objects to teach them the English words. I played word games with the older students such as Scattergories and helped them with reading comprehension. Many of the school children enjoyed learning to write in cursive. I loved working at both schools; it was inspiring to see the kids’ enthusiasm and the progress they made in such a short amount of time.
I also had the opportunity to volunteer with Tali at Wings of Krembo, a youth movement run by teens for children with special needs. There, we participated in activities connected to Lag B’Omer since the holiday began that evening. My first Lag B’Omer celebration in Israel was very festive and full of campfires, friends and food.
One of my favorite parts of my trip to Israel was volunteering with Tali at Beit Canada Immigrant Absorption Center. The kids were so much fun to be around because they were so energetic and funny. We played games and let the kids take “selfies” on our phones.
During my free time in Ashkelon, I enjoyed spending time at the beach and reuniting with friends from the Diller program. Several of us took a train together to Tel Aviv to spend the day shopping, sightseeing and drinking the famous Aroma iced coffee. I had an amazing experience in Israel for my senior project and I truly feel blessed to have been able to reconnect with friends and family in my home away from home.
For more information about the Diller Teen Fellows program, contact Megan Goldsmith at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about volunteering in Ashkelon, contact Rebecca Weinstock at email@example.com.