The start of our journey!
The Emanuel School
The morning began with the excitement of seeing Israel through the eyes of the JNF-KKL and sharing this experience with other like-minded educators from Australia. Some waves of nerves went through my body as I arrived at the train station in Netanya and boarded the train to Tel Aviv ensuring I was aware of how many stops before arriving at Arlozorov. I was excited to bump into a familiar face with a sigh of relief that I had made it to the meeting point on time. We loaded our luggage and boarded the bus with lots of chatter and the beginning of new connections. After a noisy bus trip, we arrived at Rosh Tzipor Yarkon park. We were greeted by 3 musicians and beautiful cheerful familiar music. As we walked down the pathway and gathered together to gain more insight into the how and why the park was created. It was fascinating to learn how they tag the birds and the story of the migration of birds who will use the park on their journies. The release of the bird evoked and symbolized thoughts and feelings of freedom, of how lucky we are to be free in our own land.
In true Jewish style, we were treated to a delicious assortment of food and a hot drink before sitting down for the opening ceremony. We were introduced to different representatives of the JNF and the roles they have played in putting the tour together. The connection between Australian and Israel through the JNF left me feeling grateful and privileged to be part of making this dream come true.
As we headed through the lush rolling hills the change of landscape as we left Tel Aviv the splash of colour amongst the sandstone and crops of vineyards as we headed North. Arriving at The Lavi field and Forest Education Centre, we gathered under the olive trees around the map of Israel and learned how the centre contributes to the community through education. We had the opportunity to share our personal connections with significant places in Israel. We ended our visit planting a tree with our work colleagues which was an incredible moment. Noam our tour guide said it best when he said: “you now all have roots here, come and visit often”.
We hopped on the bus and headed for the Jordan River Village where I was overwhelmed by the amazing initiative this place offers through their unique programs to enrich the lives of children with serious illnesses. To think that the centre and all their programs are inclusive on all levels and that there is a place for these children to celebrate life and a place to be equal. We continued to head North where we gathered for our first evening meal together. We shared a drink and many stories, exhausted we headed to bed for an early start. We are looking forward to continuing our adventures on day 2!