HHS students spend a semester in Israel
February 17, 2017
While many students dream of escaping HHS to explore the broader world, it’s rare that high school students are presented with the opportunity.
Libby Fern, junior, sought out the opportunity of a lifetime and is currently living in Jerusalem through a study abroad program called Tichon Ramah Yerushalayim (TRY).
“I wanted to take the opportunity to do something different. I wanted to take the opportunity I had to see the world, travel, learn, and grow and TRY gave me that amazing opportunity,” Fern said.
Fern is not alone in seizing the opportunity to expand her horizons through travel in high school. Several HHS juniors have perused similar experiences to Fern, all traveling to Israel through Judaic affiliated programs.
Although there are other study abroad programs that students can participate in, traveling to countries other than Israel, the Guidance office was unable to provide the Royal Page with additional information or examples in which students did this.
The most popular programs for HHS students include AMHSI, as well as Tichon Ramah Yerushalayim (TRY) and Nfty-Eisendrath International Experience (Nfty-EIE). Each have key similarities, such as a Jewish Studies course, which incorporates 4,000 years of history. However, each program has distinctive features which set them apart from one another.
For example, TRY is based in Jerusalem, the Jewish epicenter of Israel, and has a greater stronger focus on religious practices.
“This [the religious element] was important to me because I wanted to try something that was unlike my life at home, and once I feel so connected to Judaism while in Israel, I wanted to be assured that religion would be during my trip.” said Libby Fern, junior, who is currently in Israel through the TRY program.
In contrast, NFTY-EIE is based at Kibbutz Tzuba, about 15 minutes away from Jerusalem, and is generally considered to be less religiously affiliated. Similarly, Alexander Muss High School in Israel is based in Hod HaSharon, Israel, not Jerusalem. AMHSI stresses religious practices less than TRY.
“One of my family friends works for the Jewish National fund, and she’s always told me what a great program [AMHSI] is, which encouraged me to do travel through AMHSI over other options,” said Sophie Sandler, Junior, another HHS student who traveled abroad during second term.
Students work with counselors to research programs and find the one best suited to them, and HHS counselors assist in planning their eight week visit with academics in mind.
“I act as a liaison with the programs, so I provide recommendations for them, I submit their transcripts, I collect their transcripts when they finish the program and make sure that their grades are entered here.” said Ms. Shanna Jadwin, counselor.
As a result, Jadwin got a unique opportunity to travel to Israel and visit the HHS students at Alexander Muss over second term this year. As one of ten educators invited, and the only teacher from the Midwest, Jadwin felt especially thankful.
While there, she experienced what life was like for the HHS students. With this knowledge, she is now more capable to inform students curious about the programs, and better advise them.
“It was wonderful to have the opportunity to see the school [AMHSI] and really have a much better understanding of what experience our students have there,” Jadwin said.
Despite all the assistance students traveling to Israel recive, it can still be difficult to adjust in the sweeping changes to everyday life they experience.
“Adjusting to life here has been a challenge, the lack of sleep, crazy schedule, time change problems, and culture shock were in full swing during week one. Since we have fallen into a semi-consistent routine, it is much easier now,” Fern said.
However, by the time HHS students’ travel comes to an end, they are sad to see it go.
“I’ve cried nine times today, I miss everyone a lot,” Sandler said, with a smile. “You come out of it having a new family.”