If you’re wondering if I ever made it to Israel, I did. My flight (shout out to El Al!) landed on Thursday around noon. One of the very best parts about flying to Israel is that when the plane lands, everyone applauds. Whether it’s directed towards the pilots for getting there safely, the excitement of getting to Israel, or just sheer joy at being able to get out of the cramped place where each passenger has spent the last eleven long hours, every time I hear the cheering, I feel like a child arriving at Disney, and all exhaustion dissipates.
Amidst the confusion of returning to the ground a day later in a foreign country and figuring out where to go (shout out to Peter Luck!), I was headed to Kibbutz Shefayim, right outside of Tel Aviv, for a week-long orientation with my fellowship, The Nachshon Project.
Minutes after arriving at the Kibbutz, I found myself on a hike with four other Nachshon fellows. We chatted like we had known each other for years as we walked a path that led us to the edge of a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The view was amazing, and as I stood with these wonderful people I somehow knew for less than an hour, I was assured that I was in the right place.
The next week was a blur of wild experiences. We had fellowship sessions about what we value and what we want out of our futures. We visited the headquarters of Wix and Snowball Animation, two Israel start-ups. We wandered around Tel Aviv, visiting historic sites, shopping malls, and coastlines. We hopped on a merry-go-round on the boardwalk at Namal (Port of) Tel Aviv and waved to perplexed beach-goers on the sidelines. We visited the Israel branch of Google. We made sushi, and we had a drum circle on the beach, complete with a bonfire and s’mores. And at the end of the day, we piled into a room and continued our conversations and learned more about each other.
As we rolled out of Tel Aviv on Wednesday and headed to Hebrew University, I felt immensely grateful to have had a chance to meet these twenty fantastic people. Any pre-semester-at-a-new-school-in-a-new-country jitters I may have had were majorly diminished by sharing the experience with them.
Next stop: Jerusalem!