Returning Volunteer, New ExperiencesPosted on January 8, 2020
After my first Skilled Volunteer experience in 2016, I said that my days as a “regular” tourist in Israel were over. Today I believe that even more than I did then. I can’t imagine spending my annual winter vacation in Israel just as a consumer. By the same token, I can’t imagine not having opportunities for new adventures. And that’s what I love about being a Skilled Volunteer. While I am able to make a small mark on, to contribute in some slight way to, and to use a little of my “skill” for the betterment of Israeli society, I don’t punch a clock and so am free to spend time exploring and re-exploring my second home.
I have been fortunate to have worked with some wonderful organizations for the past three years. In fact, I was thrilled to be able to return for a second year to a very worthwhile organization which, unfortunately, had to close its doors recently. However, Terry Hendin, my long-time friend and mentor as a volunteer knows me very well and found an absolutely amazing placement for me this year. I am volunteering at the Stephen Spielberg Jewish Film Archives located on the Mount Scopuscampus of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Har Hatsofim). I spend 5 to 6 hours three to four days a week helping to catalogue their tens of thousands of films. In addition to the entertainment and educational value of this experience, I have had to dust off my rusty French and concentrate on my ever-growing Hebrew vocabulary in order to be able to write summaries of the films.
Believe it or not, my commute – 45 minutes on the #34 bus in the morning and afternoon – is something else I enjoy. I notice something new each day as the bus winds its way through a variety of neighborhoods – most days under very blue and clear skies. And the commuters can be interesting to observe and listen to as well.
Once I’m off the bus, I’m in a very high point in Jerusalem. On a clear day, you can see the Dead Sea from Mount Scopus. The campus has changed tremendously since the first time I was there as a college junior. I won’t tell you the year but it was a LONG time ago. The amphitheater was there although the view from it was far more barren. I have fond memories of that magnificent structure.
But I think my favorite part of this assignment is the staff. Just a director, a librarian, and a technician run the whole show. These are three of the nicest people I’ve had the good fortune to meet. From the moment I started, I felt like part of the family and that feeling has grown each day. I will miss them.
Although I still have about a week left before I head back to the cold and snow and ice that will greet me in Chicago, I am already counting the days until I can return for my fifth experience as a Skilled Volunteer for Israel.