From May 31-June 4, a group of 10 Pittsburgh students, after having completed their Birthright trip, arrived to join a continuing program in the Misgav-Karmiel Partnership region.
Their program was created based on the specifications of the federation and the Partnership in Israel and in order to create a significant relationship between the participants from overseas and the residents of the local area in Israel.
On the first day, they hiked in Nahal Amud and swam in the natural pools and springs in the area. They were served breakfast at the foot of the river and were treated to coffee and tea along the hiking route. Later that day, they traveled to Salame, met with 6-7 Bedouins of similar age (19-22) and picked za’atar. During the visit, the participants spoke a great deal with the locals, asked questions, laughed, took pictures, and they were very excited about the opportunity to speak with and get to know the Bedouin population.
In the afternoon, they traveled to Koranit, for an activity focusing on the subject of making dreams come true at “Derech Shel Ben.” The activity served as a rare window of opportunity to hear the personal story of a soldier, friend, who grew up in Misgav and fell in battle in the Second Lebanon War. This personal story and the activity were fascinating and the participants enjoyed themselves and learned a lot. The activity ended with the recitation of the Kiddush over wine, in honor of Shabbat, facing the beautiful landscape.
The second day began with a bike trip in the Misgav forest on the Partnership cycling path. During the trip (which wasn’t easy or boring – it was somewhat challenging), an ODT activity was held related to cognitive games, leadership and creativity. On Saturday night, a Havdala ceremony was held, accompanied by guitar playing by both Israeli and American participants. About 20 Israelis came to keep the participants company.
The third day began in Kishorit, where every two participants volunteered in a various industry in the village. The experiences and encounters were very meaningful and moving for the participants. In the afternoon, there was a visit to Hosaniya, at the home of a local family, which told its story of how they came to the village. The family introduced them to the Bedouin culture, which is changing to adapt to the modernization process and to the different role played by women in daily life and in the work place. From there, they continued to Maaleh Zviya, for an activity that included painting rocks in oil paints, which would be used to decorate recycled benches that were built the following day at the monument in Karmiel.
On the fourth day, the group built an ecological bench at the Rabin Lookout in memory of Nadav Bahloua. Nadav was killed in the Second Lebanon War and the as part of a long standing tradition, the municipality enables bereaved parents commemorate their children by naming municipal sites after them.
The ecological bench, created entirely from recycled materials (mostly from white cement), was built by the Americans together with students from the Ort Braude College, who will be living in the Ayalim Students’ Village in Karmiel. As part of the processing of getting acquainted, the Israeli students and the young people from Pittsburgh engaged in serious conversations on the subject of Zionism. The Ayalim Students’ Village is currently being built in Alon Park, which is in a natural forest with sprawling lawns and it will span an area of 33 dunams. The purpose of the students’ village is to encourage students studying in the city to remain in the city after they graduate and to build their homes here. Upon its completion, it will house 30 students in 3 single story buildings, and in the future, the number of buildings and students will be doubled.