New Gap Year participants Nava and Rachel recall their first experience at BINA’s Gap Year program and the first lesson they learned about setting boundaries, which set a precedent for their future experiences in the program. Read on to find out more!
When we first arrived at our apartment in Tel Aviv, all the Gap participants immediately started getting to know each other through an introduction session. Rona, our social action coordinator, led the introductions. After introducing ourselves, we started our first study session. Rona told us we were going to be discussing our boundaries: what bothered us, what didn’t, and what we expected from everyone else.
At first, it was a bit jarring, as we had known each other for only a couple of minutes and were already sharing personal things about ourselves. Rona then gave us a text for us to study together, something we would soon get very used to. The text, written by Jacob Hecht, presented a situation of two groups of people on a roof, one without fencing and the other with fencing. After looking at the text, we decided that we would, of course, be more comfortable on the roof with fencing. Rather than limiting us, boundaries give us more freedom to explore without fear, which was what we would be doing throughout our time in Gap Year.
After an hour of speaking about how to set and respect boundaries, it was dinner time. As we were a group of strangers from four different countries, we looked for something in common that we could talk about. At this point, our only shared experience was our hour-long talk about boundaries. The word “boundary” started to come up in every other sentence. It started to become a bit of a joke, but it also gave us comfort in knowing we all had something shared, and it was the first thing we could joke about and talk about together.
As the first few days went by, we started to unpack and get settled. A joke about setting boundaries still popped up in every conversation. For example, being lactose intolerant was a boundary and so was not taking morning showers. Even though we would use it sarcastically, when it was time for tough talks, we had the language we needed to navigate these conversations comfortably. We were able to talk about serious things and we knew that we would be listened to and heard. Our lesson about boundaries at the start of the program allowed us to talk, laugh, and connect while also becoming a useful tool to set boundaries without awkwardness or discomfort.
// Nava Roskes & Rachel Harris, BINA Gap Year Participant