(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
The eleven days that five bloggers from around the world spent touring Israel are probably going to offer over 1 million blog readers a perspective of Israel that they do not often encounter in their local media. That’s the impression gained from a discussion with the five during a tree-planting ceremony that KKL-JNF held for them at Aminadav, near Jerusalem. Each one of them said, in their own fashion, that Israel was “an amazing country, amazing people”.
In the modern era of computerized communication, the five visiting bloggers- Kaustabh Katdare (29), from India; Eunice Khong (33), from Singapore; Joyce Feng Yimeng (25) from China; Chris Richardson (29) from Australia; and Marcello Arrambide (27) from Venezuela – serve as the eyes and ears for a total of some 1,700,000 a month, who regularly check out their blogs to find out what is happening in the bloggers’ lives. Their popular on-line diaries are what made them guests of the Technion University's Once in a Lifetime program, an information/advocacy project that is part of Haifa University’s StandWithUs leadership program. These five bloggers were selected out of many in all corners of the world. They all unhesitatingly accepted their personal invitations to visit Israel and become acquainted with the country's historical sites, enterprises and people.
We met them on the eighth day of their intensive tour of the country, after their very emotional visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum and just before their long trip south to Eilat. Eunice Khong from Singapore, who blogs under the title “Traveler Folio”, was busy photographing the flags fluttering in honor of the group at the Aminadav Forest in the Judean Mountains. “This is simply an amazing country and very different from what I thought,” she said with a wide smile. “In Singapore I have to rely on the media, the only sources of information about Israel that are available. In truth, I didn’t really know anything about Israeli culture, Israelis and Jews. When I got the invitation to join the tour, I couldn’t believe it at first, but I was thrilled. I think that I’ll be writing for ages in my blog about my experiences here, and I’ll definitely want to come back again for a more in-depth visit.” Her impressions, ideas and thoughts will be mostly likely shared with the 200,000 devoted readers of her blog every month.
Kaustabh Katdare from India, an electrical engineer by profession, runs the Crazy Engineer blog, which has 800,000 hits every month from 180 countries. He is still trying to digest the overall sum of his experiences in Israel. “It’s still difficult for me to express it all properly in coherent words and sentences. The people were the first thing that made an impact. They are all so warm and friendly that within these few days, I feel as if I’ve already been here for a couple of years.”
Joyce Feng Yimeng from China writes two blogs and is also a journalist for an Internet magazine, which itself receives about half-a-million hits every month. Her combined love of travel and writing are what brought her to be included in this young, dynamic group. “Israel is a gorgeous country. In China the main thing we know about it is its so-called “dangerous” aspect – reports on wars and terror. I don’t feel those at all – on the contrary, I'm surrounded here by people with an
infectious joy for life, who are very open and friendly.”
Marcello Arrambide of Venezuela a stock broker by profession, feels the same way. In a relatively short time, his blog 'Wandering Trader' has gained a readership of around 62,000 fans a month, who check out his wandering footsteps. Marcello travels around the world extensively, absorbing the variety of different cultures and daily lifestyles. He totally agrees with Joyce’s reactions. “I didn’t expect that everyone in Israel would be so open and friendly, I only know one other country in the world where the people are as warm, and that’s Colombia. I came here with no pre-conceptions or prejudices and I’ve kept my eyes wide open throughout this whole tour and I’ve seen what Israelis are really like.” Marcello now resides in Kenya, after a long stay in the USA.
Australian- born Chris Richardson currently resides in London, England. His blog 'The Aussie Nomad' has 75,000 followers on both ends of the globe. Chris lists for his readers at least 13 things he did over the first 10 days in Israel, among them, driving an electric car, meeting popular Israeli singers and partying in Tel Aviv. "I still don’t know how to put most of those stories into words but I’m sure going to try over the next few weeks as I so desperately want to share them with you…I want to tell you about these amazingly smart people who have set about showcasing the country they love dearly in the hope that you too can see for yourselves."
KKL-JNF hosted the bloggers at an event of a different kind – tree-planting in the Aminadav Forest in the Judean Mountains, close to Jerusalem. T
he master of ceremonies, Andy Michelson, gave the five bloggers a run-down on KKL-JNF’s widespread efforts to improve the quality of life and the environment in Israel. The five visitors all read out the Tree-Planting Prayer in English, followed by the two Chinese speakers in the group who repeated it in their own language. The bloggers then each planted a tree, right next to the large tree-planting section where dozens of trees planted by honorary consuls of many countries from around the world are now flourishing.
The five new trees planted by the bloggers symbolize no less than five dynamic new worldwide ambassadors for Israel and its citizens.
The five members of the international bloggers mission are:
Kaustabh Katdare: www.superblog.crazyengineers.com
Eunice Khong: travelerfolio.com
Joyce Feng Yimeng: weibo.com/fengyimengblog.sina.com.cn/u/1033040567
Chris Richardson: www.theaussienomad.com
Marcello Arrambide: www.wanderingtrader.com
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