Ever since I was on USY on Wheels (back in Summer of 2004) we had a day where we volunteered at a food pantry by placing cans and other items into boxes. I remember we wanted to have some fun while doing it, so we decided to have a little competition to see who could fill the boxes the fastest. That day was fun, but that’s not why I felt so good upon leaving the food pantry. It was because I had done something from the good of my heart, and I helped people simply because I wanted to (I know I was on a program and they told us to, but this is not the point of the story we’re focusing on here!)
Ever since then (even really before but this makes the story sound better) I told myself that I wanted to dedicate a time in my life to have my main focus be on volunteering; towards humans, towards the land, just towards the world at large. These past seven months I have been doing just that, and yesterday marked my last day of that focus.
These past seven months have been nothing but enriching, enlightening, entertaining, and just about every other positive E-beginning word that you can think of. My goodbyes were sad, but also bittersweet. I do wish that I could be with these kids until the end of the school year. But duty calls.
Every day that we volunteered Amir, Jenn, and I rode our bikes. It was not only a great form of exercise, but every time I was pedaling along I couldn’t help but think of myself as a grandma talkign to my grandkids. “I’ll always remember those days in my early twenties when I was living in Israel and would bike to volunteer with my friends.”
Some of the teachers that I volunteered with gave me some really great gifts. One woman, Dahlia (whom I work with at the community center), even had a cake and some snacks to celebrate my last day. Her children had each drawn me a ‘thank-you’ picture that she compiled into a booklet — now my biggest challenge is going to have to decipher what hebrew letters these little kids are writing and then translate the whole thing. Dahlia also works at one of the schools I volunteer at and the next day she gave me a beautiful ring. We both like artsy jewelry and would always comment on what each other was wearing, so this colorful flower ring was extremely fitting and just perfect. I can’t wait to wear it and be reminded of Dahlia, the kids, and everything about my whole wonderful experience at the community center.
Eti is the teacher at the school I found the most challenging, yet most rewarding, to volunteer at. In almost every class she would play this video of a song, “How are you?” by The Busy Beavers. It would teach children English, and it taught Amir and I that it is in fact possible for a song to get stuck in your head for days on end. Well I received another fitting goodbye present from Eti. A personalized t-shirt of the song lyrics for Amir and I. [Shirt to be shown later due to a current video being made]
Here are Amir and I with the third grade. Those little cuties. Be sure to check how I’m not that much taller than them.
Here is Eti playing outside with her third grade class.
Sonya was the ‘English teacher’s aid’ if you will. Although I think her job was more important than to just leave it at that. She was a great woman who hailed from Oxford, England. I loved her accent and how it reminded me of London, almost as much as I loved her.
My next focus will be on my career. I’ll be interning in Jerusalem at Lonestar Communications, which is a public affairs and media relations consultancy. I of course want to help people and the world at large through my career. I also never want to stop volunteering my time somewhere. I hope wherever I move to next I can set up something to allow me to volunteer there at least once a week. Until then I am only going to focus on one thing for these next few days. And that is packing, and reflecting on the last absolutely wonderful three-and-a-half months that I spent living in Rehovot.