by Gina Milano, New Jersey and Roseli Ejzenberg, Maryland
We are pioneers in the desert in more ways than one. We are volunteers from the new organization "Skilled Volunteers for Israel". Our volunteer project is at Nitzana, a rural, youth educational community in the Negev desert. We are assisting in an intensive English program geared to disadvantaged, lower income Israelis. We work in the classroom assisting the Master teacher several hours per day and then attend different trips and activities such as bike excursions, camel rides, team building activities, among many.
Together with Gina’s 17 year old son, we arrived at Nitzana with the perception that we had reached the ends of the earth. In many ways, it is. Nitzana is located one hour southwest of Beersheva and a few steps away from the Egyptian border in the middle of the Negev desert. As the days continued, we realize that in many ways, the opposite is true. Nitzana represents the confluence of multiple ethnicities, religious approaches, classes, ages, educational levels and culture.