This morning began with an extremely early wake up, followed by a 3 hour bus journey. We set off to the Southern part of Israel, ready to tackle what was in store for us. Our activities for the day covered a range of areas and were organised by Keren Hayesod - United Israel Appeal (KH-UIA) and Youth 2 Israel (y2i). These organisations are an essential part of our program and play a huge role in ensuring each one of us from past, present and future IST groups can partake in the magical experiences that Israel has to offer. Therefore, everyone felt the need to involve themselves in every aspect of the day. This was not only to give back to the people who sponsored our incredible journey, but to also gain a sense of understanding as to why these organisations are so passionate about youth visiting the holy land - Israel.
As we got off the buses and reunited with some familiar faces, we were split into groups made up of Sydney students from Moriah, Emanuel, Masada and BJE, and participated in a few ice-breaker games within those groups in order to get to know the other kids who we'd be with for the rest of the day. The blue group, which was my group, volunteered with the agriculture in the desert as our first activity. We then moved on to watching a short video about the UIA and heard from a man who briefly explained to us some of the work his organisation does and the importance of supporting the growth of Israel's youth. This session triggered a realisation for me, about how vital these sponsors are in making these trips possible for every child who wishes to travel to Israel and made me feel so fortunate and lucky to know that such amazing opportunities are being made a reality for us all. We then made our way to the cafeteria to feed our ravenous stomachs and progressed into the final activities for the day. Our guide took us through some ODT, (out door training) which encouraged us to cooperate as a group and practise our teamwork skills. After taking a short bus trip to Nitzana-Bustan, we were given bikes and rode through some rocky terrain whilst admiring the beautiful scenery. This bike ride led us to a monument that symbolises the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt.
The last part of the day consisted of all types of Chanukah celebrations; lighting the Chanukiah, singing songs and eating delicious jam-filled donuts! We then said our goodbyes and headed off from what was an extremely educational, fun and worthwhile day where we met new people and gave back to the ones who made our unbelievable Israel study tour a possibility for all.