By Lindsey Kessler, Mitzvah Corps Israel 2017 Participant
Yemin Orde started as a boarding school for orphaned children after the Holocaust. It is now a boarding school for teens who have immigrated to Israel from all over the world, including countries such as Ukraine and Ethiopia. During the time Mitzvah Corps Israel spent at Yemin Orde, we met many teens who attend the school and work on their farm. It was such a unique experience for me.
While working on the farm, we used that time to also get to know those who attend and work at Yemin Orde. We played the question game with one of the teachers, which helped us to better understanding the school. We also met teens whose academic focus was agriculture and others who were focusing on technology.
Throughout these conversations, it became apparent how different the lives of the students at Yemin Orde are compared to that of our group. First off, they attend boarding school for many years at a time and then have to join the IDF. Many don’t see their parents often and for some, only once a year on visiting day. Some students come to the school through their home country Jewish agency, leaving their families behind to be in a whole new land they’ve never experienced.
Despite so many differences, we quickly learned that we had much in common. During a game of Human, I realized that we like much of the same music, sports, colors, and so much more. While talking to the boys on the farm, a boy from our group and one of the boys on the farm shared the same favorite rapper.
While learning about their school, it was obvious to see the many cultures coming together. I found it really encouraging that the students from all over the world, but appreciate learning about their peers’ cultures. During the year, each country has a different day to be celebrated, with a huge festival. When we asked the students why they chose to come to this school, one girl in particular stuck out to me. She talked about being able to learn so much about other cultures. Through all our conversations, the whole aspect of family at school really stood out, which is truly unique.
During our time at Yemin Orde, I felt a true sense of community with these teens; the whole experience encompassed the feelings of community and family they have at their school. Even though we spent a short amount of time with the teens, I still felt a connection to them.