20 May Discovering Her Path in Israel
“I always felt very comfortable in Israel, I liked the culture, the people, the language and was always quite connected to the country,” recalled Clara. “I wanted to explore that more and experience how it feels to live in Israel for more than just being on vacation and learn Hebrew properly.”
This desire led her to search for programs in Israel online, which resulted in her discovering Masa Israel Journey. Masa is the leader in immersive international experiences in Israel for young adults (18-30), offering a variety of study abroad, internship, service learning, or Jewish studies programs.
Clara started her Masa journey by first volunteering with Project TEN in Kibbutz Harduf. The Project TEN Harduf Center offers participants the opportunity to teach English to kids at Bedouin schools in the villages near the Kibbutz and also volunteer in a group home that caters to those with special needs. Volunteers also sit in on some basic Hebrew and Arabic classes, engage in discussions about coexistence, and more.
“When I found the Harduf program, it sounded very unique and the combination of all these different activities seemed super interesting and exciting to me,” shared Clara. “I wasn’t disappointed and am really grateful for this experience. The time in Harduf was truly special, I learned a lot and met some of the most amazing people I know.”
After her time in Harduf, Clara was unsure about whether to stay in Israel for longer or go back to Germany. She decided to instead do another Masa program, this time signing up for an Ulpan program in Kibbutz Ma’agan Michael where she learned Hebrew and worked in the kindergarten of the Kibbutz and made more incredible connections.
To those thinking about doing a Masa program, Clara advises, “Just be really open to new experiences, new people, new cultures, etc., and then not a lot can go wrong! Whatever you do, you will for sure make some great friends on the way.”
I can’t imagine being where I am today, studying something I’ve always wanted to do, but never dared to, without my experience in Israel.
Clara now studies Photography at a university in the Netherlands, a decision she credits to her time on Masa. During her time in Harduf, Clara and other volunteers organized a co-existence Shavuot festival where the Bedouin kids they taught came and did arts and crafts together and the volunteers performed the Arabic/English/Hebrew theatrical play they had prepared.
“That festival was such a key moment for me because it felt like it was combining all the things important to me: art, amazing projects, working with children and co-existence,” shared Clara. “That’s when I realized that art is such a beautiful way to bring people together and to communicate, which is essentially why I decided to go to an art school… I now understood that this was my way of possibly having a chance at contributing to this world in a positive way.”
Beyond helping her identify what she wants to do career-wise, she says Masa also gave her a chance to learn a lot about herself and Israel.
“I feel that I’ve gained so much knowledge, not only about myself, but also about Israel as a country and how it functions. And being away from home for so long taught me about independence,” Clara said. “Living with this unique combination of people from all different countries taught me to be more open, how to work in groups and address conflicts…I can’t imagine being where I am today, studying something I’ve always wanted to do, but never dared to, without my experience in Israel.”