My Bonim Experience
Putting my Bonim experience into words is definitely a difficult task, but it will be done -- and inspire others to take the journey that I embarked on with nine other teens this summer.
Throughout the summer, I had two things on my mind: getting my 150 internship hours for finance completed; and getting ready to begin my experience as a Bonim Fellow (one proving to be more exciting than the other). Bonim had started to finally settle in my mind when I realized that I had to prepare myself to teach Israeli second and third graders to speak English and I had to pack a suitcase for 10 days on my own since, ironically, my parents were in Israel at the time.
As the bus took us to the airport and the plane landed in New York, I began to realize that I was selected for a program that only 10 people each year have the privilege of going on. I was about to help change children's and people's lives for the better.
When we landed in Israel we were greeted with posters, yelling and a swarm of friends from the previous year on Gesher Hai hugging us. This was the start to a fantastic trip!
As the first few days sped by, we had the change to get to know everyone a little better and learn about the projects we would be doing. I was extremely excited to learn more about the day camp we would be participating in, and how we would be implementing our English lessons. The camp was set up so that every group had two Israelis who would be translating our entire lesson for them into Hebrew so that they could understand it better.
On the first day of camp, my partner Matthew and I were starting to wonder if maybe our project would be too easy or too hard...or just wouldn't work at all. It was a nerve-wracking few minutes, because that is all the time we had to worry, as the kids were ready to start their day as soon as possible.
Our first group was the biggest group of girls. We started to teach them the alphabet song, and got them to come out of their shells and sing along with us. Then we played a matching game with the letters to help them see what they looked like. Lastly, the girls started to trace over the letters and write their names, and basically whatever they wanted to. It went fantastically; I couldn't have asked for a better group to start the day with!
As the week went on the lessons for everyone had to be tweaked, depending on the group with them. Especially for the boys, who seemed to always want to be outside and running around non-stop. But the changes were made and it went smoothly for everyone.
The children were obviously impacted by this five-day experience. As a counselor who had the opportunity to have every group, it was amazing to see the transitions the kids went through in such a short time period. In the beginning they did not want to sit down or listen to us, but by the end they were polite, always wanting to be with us. A few found us on Facebook and have commented on plenty of pictures, tryingi their hardest to write in English for us. It was honestly such an amazing experience.
Bonim Fellows impacted my way of looking at things. We can make a difference in so many lives just be teaching another language and being there to hang out with these amazing kids. I would recommend Bonim Fellows to anyone who is willing to put in plenty of energy and time to help those in need. In was an experience that I will never forget.
-- Jessica Falk