University of Haifa International School Student Blog
It’s been a while since my last blog, and I’m sorry about that. I am no blogger, just a mere amateur. Here’s a list of the exciting things I’ve done since I last wrote:
I didn’t do anything particularly exciting for this. I finally watched the classic horror movie, The Shining, but that’s basically it. The international students successfully begged the people at the moadon to keep the bar open on Shabbat so we could have our own Halloween party without having to ride 40 minutes on a bus into town. It was fun to see what everyone dressed up as with their limited supply of clothing and access to creative materials. I was oh so original and dressed up as Rosie the Riveter. There were many cats, mice, and other animals, but the most crafty of them all was the group that dressed up as Pacman. Props to them for making Pacman out of cardboard and yellow wrapping paper, it really was a true feat.
This is something that I look forward to every Monday afternoon. Upon coming to the University of Haifa, I decided that I would take the opportunity to volunteer in the community and really immerse myself in the culture here. The school has a few different options for volunteering from helping out at a nursing home for Holocaust survivors to marketing for the International School. I really think I got the best gig though, I get to teach English to elementary school children with ages varying from 3-10. The community center’s purpose is to help at risk children prepare for elementary school and make sure they have an educational and fun place to go. And let me tell you, THEY ARE SO CUTE. I get to use my basic Hebrew skills when I talk to them and try to help them understand the different animals that me and two other volunteers from the International School are teaching. There are a few kids who have been there every week I have been there and I really feel that they are becoming comfortable coming to me and asking questions or even giving up their beautiful art projects so that I can take them home and hang them on my wall. So far, this has been a very rewarding experience, not only because I get to actually use my Hebrew skills outside of camp or college classes, but also because these kids just seem so happy and eager to be in the room with us.
Hiking in the Galilee
Our two day hiking trip has been my favorite part about my experience abroad so far. I felt the most at home being amongst people who just wanted to be in the nature and rough it for two days. Well it wasn’t exactly roughing it since we slept in a Bedouin tent that had electricity and running water, but it was still nice to be out in the wilderness hiking for 8 hours a day. The first day we hiked the Kziv Stream and up to some crusader ruins. If you’re looking at a map of Israel, the Kziv Stream is in the northwest part, nearly on the border of Israel and Lebanon. This day really made me feel at home, and by home I mean I felt like I was at camp or on a Mosh trip. We were essentially scaling mountains, scrambling across boulders, and hiking through beautiful wooded areas alongside (and in) the Kziv Stream. We were hot and smelly and dirty and it was awesome. Our tour guide, who slipped and fell on solid rock within the first two minutes of our hike, fearlessly lead us on the trail while limping the whole time. He taught us about the crusaders and also some fun facts about the plants and animals surrounding us. After an 8 hour hike and a conveniently placed ice cream truck at the end of the trail, we drove two hours across the country to the northeastern side of the Kineret (the Sea of Galilee), nearly on the border of Israel and Syria. This is where we stayed overnight in the tents that had electrical outlets and a bathroom with showers. Not so much roughing it, but it did the trick.
When we woke up the next morning at 6am, we had a new tour guide, since our original one was injured, and we also had major bags under our eyes because, you know, it was 6 in the morning. Aside from being extremely exhausted, we were all ready to continue on our hiking journey. The Zavitan Stream hike had completely different scenery than our hike from the previous day. One day we were experiencing fall in the Pacific Northwest, and the next day we were hiking in a desert valley. We were only two hours from where we began our hike the first day and it was like we drove 25 hours from Washington to Arizona. Only in Israel. Anyways, the second was a bit flatter than the first, but still had the same amount of rocks to climb over and attempt to not trip over. We hiked and hiked. We stopped and discussed the nature we were hiking through. We hiked some more until finally we got to our major destination, this beautiful pond and waterfall. Before descending the mountain to get to the stream, our tour guide read us this poem about making choices and regretting the risks you didn’t take. His purpose was to convince us to go swimming in the pond, the pond whose water comes from melted ice and snow from the Hermon Mountain. I, along with about 20 other students, bravely dove into the water. I know that over in the midwest it’s about 20 degrees outside and you are all freezing your butts off just walking outside, but let me tell you, that’s nothing compared to the cold of that water. It literally took my breath away when I got in. If I ever would have stopped moving while I was in there, I would probably be a popsicle still floating in the water right now. It was that cold, yet it was totally worth it.
Check back soon for the second installment of, “where the heck has Sari been the past two weeks?”
By: Sari Kreines