Anna was a member of Yahel Social Change Fellowship 2018-19 cohort in Lod. Check out what she's been up to since moving on from Yahel!
What were some of your activities while on the fellowship? I lived in Lod and taught English at religious Jewish elementary school to 4-6th graders. I worked for FIDEL, a non-profit that assists Ethiopian-Israelis integrate into Israeli society. I also volunteered at the local FIDEL youth center for high school students. I spent two nights a week at Warm House, an after-school program for at-risk Arab youth, where I helped facilitate games and activities. Lastly, I helped run an English group with Arab women where we discussed topics ranging from religion, politics, holiday traditions, fashion and more.
Tell us about your English Olympics project.
Another Yahel fellow and I organized and ran an English Olympics day for the 3rd-6th graders at our school. All the classes came up with team names, team colors, team chants and posters. They competed in different activities including an obstacle course, egg race, balloon toss and clothing race. It was amazing to see the students and teachers alike come together and have fun all while practicing English.
What are you doing now? I am working at Covenant House Newark, a homeless shelter for young people 18-21 years old. I act as a case manager, helping youth set and achieve their goals and eventually move into a stable living situation. Additionally, I helped start an exercise class and do exercise programming for interested youth. Yahel solidified my desire to work hands on with youth and young adults, specifically those who are under-served. Through Yahel we worked in communities that faced problems such as racism, drugs, violence and inadequate living situations and discussed at length basics needs, rights and ways we can help improve these communities. At Covenant House, I work with young people from similar backgrounds and our goal is similar, to provide unconditional love and support to young people to move away from things such as drugs, violence and toxic relationships, to safety and stability.
What has stayed with you since the fellowship?
The memories I have with the other fellows, my students, youth and the countless stories and perspectives told to us by speakers, host families, staff and friends stay with me. Yahel and living in Israel taught me it’s okay to slow down, to enjoy a day off and reminded me how kind, genuine and inviting people can be.
Do you have any favorite memory or story from your time with Yahel? Working at the Warm House was one of my hardest placements, mostly because of the language barrier. There was one kid who rarely interacted with me until he realized we walked home in the same direction. He started to wait for me every night, even when I had to stay late and he was supposed to leave. We never had a full conversation but we would watch YouTube together, listen to music and sometimes he’d want to race me down the block. He was always very curious what was in my backpack and would ask for candy every day. There were many days I was completely exhausted, mentally, emotionally and physically but on the days I had warm house, I knew I could look forward to our walks home. My final day, he took me the longest route to his house and we eventually said goodbye. When I started to walk away I heard him call my name. He put his hands in the shape of a heart and ran back to give me one more hug. I’m not sure he will remember me as time goes on but I know I’ll remember him.
Thank you to Anna for sharing her experience and career updates with us! We love to stay connected with alumni and see the long-term effects of the Yahel experience.