by Mikayla Pollard, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Class of 2020

After spending a week with my dad as tourists in Israel, I was so excited to extend my stay for five weeks while volunteering at an English speaking day camp in Kiryat Ghat.

The camp sends counselors from Chicago every summer for a month. We all live with host families in Israel. Three days a week the camp had social programming for the Israeli and American counselors together.

I had a group of 10-to-12 year-olds and two Israeli co-counselors. As counselors, we spent the first week planning the entire schedule for camp and preparing all the games and activities. An hour of the day is also spent working on English vocabulary with the Israeli kids.

Volunteering in Israel has been a very cool experience. I was truly immersing myself in Israeli culture by living with a host family during my stay. Some simple differences I have noticed in Israel are that there are lots of cats roaming the streets, but no squirrels; the stoplights go from red to yellow; and, you have to pay money to use shopping carts!

Although these simple differences exist on many levels, the strong connection that the American camp counselors quickly found with the Israeli camp counselors and campers was undeniable. Whether we grow up in the United States or Israel, our Jewish heritage and culture bind us in unexplainable ways. We share a history and a future, regardless of where we live.

"I am currently immersing myself in Israeli culture, living with a host family in Israel. Some simple differences I have noticed in Israel are that there are lots of cats roaming the streets, but no squirrels; the stoplights go from red to yellow; and, you have to pay money to use shopping carts! While living with Israelis, I quickly realized that whether we grow up in the United States or Israel, our jewish heritage and culture bind us in unexplainable ways. We share a history and a future, regardless of where we live. I am so excited to extend my stay afterwards to volunteer at an English speaking day camp in Kiryat Ghat!" Mikayla Pollard shares her #Israel story this summer🇮🇱 What is your Israel story? DM us & let us know & we will be happy to feature you on our page #illiniloveisrael #myisraelstory #visitisrael

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