The Universal Language of Children

Posted on August 13, 2018

I arrived in Israel this past June very excited about the summer, but also incredibly uncertain about the adventure I was about to embark upon. Thanks to Skilled Volunteers for Israel, I had landed an internship at the Holland Center, a nonprofit rehabilitation facility specializing in the treatment of special needs toddlers. Although this internship was right up my ally, I was quite nervous given the Holland Center is a Hebrew-only speaking facility, and my Hebrew up until this point had been rusty, at best. I continuously reminded myself however that I would somehow make this work, and if I truly put my mind to the challenge, I would be able to conquer it. Not only was I able to conquer it, but I flourished. Despite the massive language barrier, I called upon my Hebrew foundation that I had built upon many, many years ago, mustered up my basic vocabulary, but most importantly, I spoke the universal language of “children”. I poured unconditional love and patience into my work with these deeply developmentally and physically impaired children, and received an immeasurable amount of love and gratitude in return. These children nourished my soul, and reminded me why I woke up every day this summer at 6 am to go do what I love the most.

Getting the chance to live and work in Tel Aviv without the structure but with the resources of a program was exactly what I was hoping to find. Skilled Volunteers for Israel enabled me to engage in two full months of quality volunteer work, while allowing my mother to sleep at night knowing I was in good hands and was just a text or phone call away from Minna, the Tel Aviv project coordinator. Getting the opportunity this summer to immerse myself in Tel Avivan culture and also have the freedom to travel around and get to know other parts of Israel helped further strengthen my relationship with this wonderfully complex country. This summer was so transformative and clarifying for me that I decided that I am going to apply to Tel Aviv University for graduate school. I want any excuse I can get to come back to Tel Aviv, engage in what makes me most passionate, and possibly even return to the Holland Center, but this time as an employee!