21 Feb Finding His Passion through Aardvark Israel
Finding His Passion through Aardvark Israel
Eitan from Vancouver, Canada, is interning and living like a local through an Aardvark Israel gap year program in the Jewish State, an experience that has been life-changing.
When Eitan, 18, graduated from King David High School in Vancouver, Canada, in mid-2022, he knew exactly what he wanted to do that fall and where: an Aardvark Israel gap year program in the Jewish state.
Aardvark Israel operates in conjunction with Masa Israel Journey, which is a joint project of the Government of Israel and The Jewish Agency for Israel. Aardvark’s mission is to bring together a diverse group of students from all over the world for meaningful, life-changing experiences in Israel that strengthen their Jewish identity, deepen their commitment to Israel and foster their personal growth.
Seven years ago, when Eitan’s older sister was looking for gap year programs in Israel at age 18, she stumbled across Aardvark on Masa’s website and decided to sign up; her incredible experience inspired Eitan’s brother to later choose to do a gap year through Aardvark, too. So when it was Eitan’s turn, having heard both siblings raving about Aardvark, there was no question in Eitan’s mind what program he would pick.
“I’ve learned so much already, such as independence and self-sufficiency, and gained some real-life perspective. And having these skills, for whatever you do in the future, is really helpful,” said Eitan. “It’s what you make of it; what you give is what you get so if you want your experience to be meaningful, you need to commit – whether it’s in your Hebrew learning, your internship, etc.”
Coming from a small Jewish community in Vancouver, Justin was excited about meeting Jews from around the world and making new friends, and having the opportunity to live in Israel like a local.
“I’d been to Israel before as a tourist to visit family and it was a place I’d learned about in school, but now that I’m here longer-term, I realized that was just scratching the surface,” Eitan explained. “My mom was born in Israel and lived here much of her life and her parents still live here, and my dad spent 15 years in the country with my mom, so it’s been really cool to get to live here too, even if only temporarily.”
Part of what’s been so life-changing about Eitan’s Aardvark experience is his participation in the program’s internship track.
“I’ve been working at a tattoo studio in Tel Aviv called Inklude. And even though art has been a big part of my life for a long time and I love drawing and painting, I never thought about tattooing before Israel,” shared Eitan. “But when I was offered the internship at the tattoo studio, I jumped at the chance, and my boss here really encouraged me to go for my dreams.”
Now, after his Aardvark program ends, Eitan will return to Canada to attend the University of British Columbia and earn a Bachelor’s degree but will also be practicing to be a tattoo artist.
“My main goal in coming to Israel was to find a passion – and I think I may have found it,” Eitan stated. “And I would 10/10 tell other young Jewish adults to do an Aardvark program, it’s been amazing.”