Today’s participant blog post comes from Larry Gersz, a participant of the Yahel Social Change Program. This group is living, learning and volunteering in the Ramat Eliyahu neighborhood of Rishon LeZion for 9 months this year.
A Day in the Life: A Brief Journey Through The Day of a Yahelnik
Our days begin around 7. Breakfast (and of course coffee!) is the most important meal of the day!
Monday and Thursday we begin our mornings with group learning. They include participant led sessions, presentations by speakers from the community, seminars on teaching English as a second language, and much more.
Rachel led today’s first session and we continued discussion of our group project.
Sunday and Tuesday are school days. Emily and I work at Zevulun Hammer School, a religious elementary.
We take kids out (usually 3 at a time) of their regular English class, to allow for additional reading and conversational time. I begin my morning with the 5th grade girls. We work on vocabulary, grammar and also play word games.
At recess, I try not to go too hard against the students in their daily dodge ball game. They always argue over which team I should join.
Next are the 4th grade boys. We mainly work on reading pronunciation, as well as basic grammar. These boys are always so enthusiastic for the extra help in English!
School ends around 1:30 and the children go home for lunch. On the walk home, I usually stop for groceries. The variety of produce and freshness is always top-notch.
Aside from the produce, this is definitely my favorite store! AKA the junk food stop, for all my chips, cookies and candy needs.
Jen’s spectacular donut from the new bakery in the neighborhood.
We all finish our morning volunteer work around the same time, so it is nice that we usually get to have lunch together in the apartment. Kayci enjoying her lunch (and some of my potato chips!)
Sunday and Tuesday, after lunch and a short hafsaka (break), I go to the Matnas Learning Center to meet with students for English tutoring. I meet with one student or a pair from 4 to 5:30 and then a second from 5:30 to 7. These are usually high school students preparing for their Bagrut assessment exams (similar to the SAT).
Monday afternoons, I travel to the Save a Child’s Heart center in Holon. This is a non-profit that brings children with congenital heart problems from all across the globe to Israel for lifesaving treatment. Most of the children arrive without their own parents, but in groups from their respective countries with a “host mom.” As volunteers we both comfort and play.
We play with trucks, legos, balloons, do various arts and crafts projects, kick a ball around, listen to music and dance and much more.
One unique aspect of the organization is that treatment is not the only mission. Doctor’s also travel with the children from their home countries for training in cardiac procedures that can then be utilized back home.
After our afternoon volunteer work, we all return home for dinner. Here is Jen’s showing off his world-class cooking skills!
Our day concludes with some much needed unwinding, relaxation, discussion of the day’s rewarding moments or stressful events, but always thankful for another meaningful day in the community.