EDUCATORS FROM France and Belgium pose with doves on a visit last week to the Hebesor Region ‘Salad Trail’ in the Negev, sponsored by Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund..
(photo credit: LAURENCE KIMAN)
A group of 45 teachers and school directors from France and Belgium went on a trip of a lifetime this past week with the aim of enriching the education experience of their students.
For seven days, the educators traveled around Israel as part of a special initiative by Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund’s Youth and Education Department as an attempt to enrich education by learning about Israel.
The trip took the educators to see the country’s technological advancements, agricultural prominence, natural beauty, historical roots and the warmth of the Israeli people as well. The tour focused mostly on sites in the South, including stops at Kibbutz Sde Boker, a visit to the Arava, a visit to the “Salad Trail” in the Habesor Region and, of course, visits to the country’s most famous sites in Jerusalem on Thursday and Friday, including the Western Wall, Yad Vashem and the Knesset.
Laurence Kiman, from KKLJNF’s education department in Paris, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that even though she works for the organization and has visited Israel before, the trip was much different than the average vacation.
“It was like visiting for the first time,” she said, describing how some of the unique activities included meeting farmers and having dinner with a family in Yeroham through a project called Cooking in the Desert.
“Before, we were learning [solely] through books, but now [teachers] can teach through their experience,” explained Kiman.
“It’s the kind of experience that can only be transmitted from the heart and not the brain,” she said. Teachers are able to enrich their teaching experience, she said, by being able to show students their own photos of Israel or talk about things they use or consume every day, such as cherry tomatoes, that students might not have otherwise realized were Israeli innovations.
The first trip of this kind took place last year with educators at Jewish schools. After the positive feedback of the trip, KKL-JNF decided to do it again this year. During the sign up process, Kiman said, an interesting phenomenon happened.
She started getting calls from Jewish educators at non-Jewish schools asking to come on the trip, then calls from Jewish educators at universities.
She welcomed all of them onto the trip. This year’s group even has a non-Jewish teacher couple who asked to come on the trip. Kiman had met them last year when they were on their way to a Yad Vashem seminar in Israel and when they contacted her, she felt it would be a “rich opportunity to welcome them.”
Kiman said the group meshed well despite coming from a wide variety of backgrounds, “from rabbis to women with short sleeves,” she said.
The group has “all components of the Jewish world and we all get along,” she said.
Participants paid for their own flights, but aside from €75, KKL-JNF paid for the seven- day trip, accommodations, food and tour guide.
Next year’s trip is already being mulled over, with Kiman noting it will take place in Jerusalem, as the city celebrates the 50th anniversary of its reunification.