Highlights From the 2009 REALITY Israel Experience Group
Trip Journal

July 6 - After landing at Ben Gurion airport, the group of 40 corps members headed for an experiential lesson on herding a flock of sheep, followed by a discussion relating their classroom experiences to their approaches in shepparding. In the evening, the group had dinner at the Aviran Family Farm in Moshav Nahalal, which is the burial place of Moshe Dayan and Ilan Ramon.

July 7 - The group spent the day learning about the Kibbutz movement by visiting Kibbutz Ein Gev, Degania and Eshbal. The parallels between the pioneers of the 2nd Aliya and the Teach For America corps members were particularly striking to many. In the afternoon, the group went rafting down the Jordan river, and spent the evening dining in Tiberias on the shores of the Kinneret.

July 8 - Several corps members woke up early to help clean the Kinneret beach! Then, after an overview of Israel from Mizpe Gadot, they went ATV-Off Roading in the Golan Heights. Later in the day, the group met with Israeli teachers from the Youth Renewal Fund to discuss their challenges teaching kids from economically disadvantaged communities and their strategies for overcoming those challenges. That night, the corps members were hosted for a traditional dinner in the Druze village of Ussifiya, where they learned about the Druze community in Israel.

July 9 - After a co-existence tour in Israel's north, the group met with representatives from "Hakol Chinuch," a local social start-up aimed at establishing a version of Teach for America in Israel. Lynn Schusterman hosted the group for dinner at her home overlooking Jerusalem. Afterwards, they attended the opening premiere of the 26th Jerusalem Film Festival which was held in Sultan's Pool - an outdoor auditorium on the slope of Jerusalem's Old City.

July 10 - The group went on a 3 Religions tour of the Old City in Jerusalem and participated in an interactive program with Jewish and Arab representatives of the Sulha Project. They celebrated their Shabbat together in Jerusalem and were joined by 4 Teach For America alumni who currently live in Israel.

July 11 - The group enjoyed the beauty of Shabbat in Jerusalem by taking time to reflect. In the afternoon, they received an informative political assessment from Aluf Benn, one of the senior columnists and editors of Haaretz newspaper, and went on a walking tour of some of Jerusalem's neighborhoods.

July 12 - The group met with the Director and other activists from "Bema'aglei Tzedek" (Circles of Justice), one of Israel's premiere service organizations, and participated in an "accessibility" walking tour of Jerusalem's German Colony where participants experience what it is like to be disabled in Jerusalem. In the evening, they did an archeological dig followed by a picnic dinner outside one of Israeli's national parks near Beit Shemesh.

July 13 - The group met with peers in the town of Sderot - a community that borders the Gaza strip which has been heavily bombarded by rockets over the past 8 years. Afterwards, they visited Yerucham, where they met the city's legendary mayor, Amram Mitznah, and learned about efforts in the city to empower the local community.

July 14 - The group enjoyed a relaxing morning at the Dead Sea and hiking in the area. They then traveled to Tel Aviv, where they spent the evening at the "Na Laga'at" (Please Touch) Centre, eating "Dinner in the Dark" and being served by blind waiters and hearing their stories. Afterwards, they watched a unique theater production, "Not by Bread Alone," performed by a 12 person troupe of blind and deaf actors.

July 15 - On their final day, the group met with Einat Wilf, a young Israeli rising political star and education activist, and toured Jaffa, Neve Tzedek and the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv. After concluding reflections, the group held their closing dinner at Lilit, a restaurant dedicated to supporting youth-at-risk through employment and training.


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