Iris Yudan, a BINA Gap Mechina participant, reflects on the special time she spent in Israel.
Hi, my name is Iris Yudan, I am from Kitzbuehel, Austria and I am half Israeli and half Austrian. About a year ago I decided that I wanted to spend my GAP year in Israel and then I found the BINA Mechina program and I knew that that is what I should do.
After arriving in Israel in August and spending a week in quarantine, I got to meet my new roommates for the upcoming months. Soon our Israeli Mechina participants joined us and we had the chance to get to know each other. But unluckily Corona did not allow us to have a regular Mechina and we had to keep distance and to be in our own small groups. For me in the beginning it was very challenging to be one of the two non-Americans, and it was very difficult for me to connect to my group mates. Especially the first Lockdown for us in Israel was very challenging, but also a possibility to get even closer. And soon I realized that I live with amazing people and that it only takes some time to get closer to each other.
Our regular planned schedule with classes, group time and volunteering started in October, and this was when I realized what I came here for. Learning more about Israel and its society. Getting to know a lot of different views from Israeli-Jews and American-Jews.
A very meaningful part of our weekly schedule was volunteering, to give the most valuable thing in life to others, our time, and still it was a lot of fun too.
I was volunteering at an after-kindergarten program for 3–6-year-old children from the refugee society, to play with them, eat with them and just be there for them, to offer them a safe place.
And soon I realized that it’s already the end of my 5-month experience in Israel, it’s incredible how time flies!
So what can I take with me from these past 5 months?
I learned how to live on my own and to be responsible for myself.
I got to experience how it is to live in a tiny apartment with 13 other people, how to get along with each other and how to have a working routine together.
I learned how to manage our weekly budget for shopping.
I learned how communicating is the only way to find a solution to a problem.
I also got the chance to not only improve my Hebrew, but also my English improved a lot, since I spent most of my time with my native English speaker roommates.
I realized that volunteering in the society helped me as well to give of myself, by time, and my focus shifted from my life to that of others.
I realized how important my family and friends back home are to me, who I could not see for a long time.
And the most valuable thing that I can take from this experience are all the people that I have met and that I can call my friends now.