It’s hot, dry, and located on the other side of the world, but the Central Arava Region shares a close connection with Australia through the Arava Australia Partnership (AAP) and the Zionist Federation of Australia. Since 1995, Australia has partnered with the Central Arava Region through Partnership 2Gether (P2G), a program akin to a sister city relationship. Created by the Jewish Agency for Israel P2G aims to connect a city in the Diaspora with a region in Israel through unique people to people programs including the Teacher Exchange Program.
The teacher exchange programme has been a feature of the AAP since it’s inception and has created wonderful relationships and enabled sharing of skills and professional knowledge between teachers in the Arava and the Jewish schools of Australia, bridging the distance between our two communities.’ said Tamara Bruce, Chairman Arava Australia Partnership.
During the December 2017/January 2018 school holidays, teachers Judy Blumberg and Susan Gosling from Melbourne, were sponsored by the Arava Australia Partnership to teach, volunteer and live in the Central Arava. They spent time in the kindergartens and primary school alongside local teachers. The Australian educators spent an exciting and packed 3 weeks in the Central Arava and in addition to teaching, they also experienced all that the Arava has to offer. This included enjoying moshav life as well as additional activities, such as tours of the region, visits to agricultural farms and encounters with people from the Arava and their home hospitality. Other highlights included picking and eating cucumbers and capsicums straight from the plants in the vast hothouses, visiting the Research and Development Centre and learning about the innovative research. The teachers were warmly welcomed by the children and teachers. This teacher exchange this year had as its focus; STEM and sustainability.
Judy Blumberg from Bialik College in Melbourne described the experience as “A period in my life that has been both life affirming and life changing. I would like to thank the Australia Israel Arava Partnership for having given me this wonderful opportunity to connect with, discover and learn so much more about this unique part of Israel. I have made so many new friends, both in the kindergartens and in the wider community. Wherever I went I was met with such openness, warmth and friendliness. “
Susan Gosling from Leibler Yavneh College in Melbourne said “I left having connected with the Arava community and acquired a deeper understanding and love for the Arava. Seeing science and environmental education in action in the Primary school and in the Research and Development Centre and on the farms, I feel I have gained a much deeper understanding and feel confident to implement many of those ideas in my teaching in Melbourne. “
Arava Australia Partnership National Coordinator Stacy Hayman said: “There is no book or text or experience that can create a personal connection to Israel as honestly, strongly and genuinely as simply being in Israel. The teachers managed to bring a little piece of Australia to the Arava which was an incredible and unforgettable experience. We look forward to the return of the teachers and the sharing of their experiences with the community. ”
2018 promises to be another big year for the AAP and ZFA who are currently recruiting 4 madrichim to work at a Summer Camp in Arava over June/July 2018. Applications for this highly subsided program close on 16/2/2018 and can be obtained by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org For more details call Stacy Hayman on +61 3 9272 5531.