This week's blog post is written by Reed, a Yahel Social Change Fellow in Ramat Eliyahu.
Courtesy, Integrity, Self-Control, Perseverance, and Indomitable Spirit. These are the tenets of Taekwondo and have been an integral part of my life for over 17 years. Taekwondo has made me the person I am today and through its teachings and the people I´ve gotten to know, I believe I am a better person and on the path I am on because of it. These tenets have not always come naturally to me and I have struggled with them repeatedly, but where I lacked in ability, I strived in determination and dedication. These traits molded me into someone who perseveres through the thick of it and I believe that is why I was drawn to Yahel.
I knew since I was on Birthright in January 2019 that I wanted to return to Israel some day and it became very apparent to me that I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself. In researching potential opportunities Yahel quickly rose to the top of my list because of their commitment to truly helping those in need. I have known for a long time that I want to become a teacher one day and I saw Yahel as an opportunity to do what I love in a way that not only gives back to communities in dire need, but that can help that child who maybe just needs a little more patience and energy. This is an important consideration for me because I was that child, so I work hard to be an educator who can meet needs that I feel I understand through my shared experience.
This year has been a horror, and among the tragedy and hardship we have all felt -- from the loss of a job, to the loss of a loved one, to the loss of time, among other things -- I feel that no one is the same person they were a year ago. It is likely the world will never be the same. Through all this change, the struggles of those in need have never been greater. While I applied to Yahel prior to the chaos, it only strengthened my resolve to want to come to Ramat Eliyahu and help anyway I can.
It would have been easy for Yahel to simply cancel the fellowship as many organizations around the world would have, and indeed have done, but their resolve to salvage meaning has amazed me at every step. Just recently I was exposed to someone with Covid and was forced to isolate. Throughout the process my worry was quelled by the heartfelt messages of so many of Yahel´s staff and fellows who made me feel like I wasn't forgotten. A lot is still unclear for myself this year, as volunteer placements have many restrictions and it takes time to figure out how to best use volunteers under these conditions. But from what I have done so far, from helping children in a Moadonit (where I even taught them a little Taekwondo, and plan to do more in the future) to spending time with developmentally challenged seniors, I feel confident in the work that I am doing.
As this year progresses other unforeseen issues will undoubtedly arise, but I believe that we will persevere through this because of our dedication to ourselves, each other, the communities we are serving and our work. I look forward to the next six months and to continue to see the change develop around me and Ramat Eliyahu.