ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL KIBBUTZ VOLUNTEER SEMINAR at GIVAT HAVIVA
Thirty-six volunteers from 10 countries presently working in 9 kibbutzim in the north, south and center of the country, recently met up for a two day seminar at Givat Haviva.
The second seminar in recent months was organized by the Kibbutz Programs Center together with the Givat Haviva International Department and supported by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Kibbutz volunteers gaze over the Dotan Valley in the West Bank from the Harish vantage point
The volunteers hailed from South Africa, Columbia, Ecuador, North America, Britain, Germany, Australia, Holland, Finland and Denmark, generating a feeling of a junior United Nations in session!
With 2 days of diverse programming - dealing with topics such as the kibbutz movement, Israeli society, current affairs, visit to the Moreshet Holocaust exhibition and tour of the Wadi Ara region and a few hours of Israeli dancing – the volunteers returned to their kibbutzim somewhat exhausted but in high spirits.
Daniel Ratson and his girlfriend Chantale have spent almost 3 months volunteering at Kibbutz Hazorea in the Jezreel Valley. The couple comes from Holland and during their stint as kibbutz volunteers Daniel worked assisting the chef in Hazorea’s communal kitchen and dining-room complex, whilst Chantale worked in a small branch of the kibbutz where ice-cream is produced from goat’s milk. Daniel speaks fluent Hebrew, has completed two university degrees and about to search for a job upon return to Holland in a few weeks time. Chantale, Daniel’s partner, worked in human resources in Rotterdam where the couple share a house together
“My father is Israeli and my mother from Holland,” explains Daniel when asked about his perfect Hebrew.
“My mother was a volunteer, met my father on that kibbutz and they eventually moved to Holland but I come every year to visit all my family in Israel and who knows, maybe one day we will end up here as I love the country,” he said.
“At 29 we were a little older than most of the volunteers at Hazorea and every now and then it would show – like when they would be partying outside our room and we would want to go to sleep, but we always found a way of solving those type of problems.”
Daniel and Chantale on tour in Wadi Ara
Both Daniel and Chantale enthused about the opportunity they had been given in attending the volunteer seminar and praised the Kibbutz Programs Center and Givat Haviva for the program’s content and speakers dealing with the varied topics.
“I learned a great deal and the tour around the region has really helped me to understand better many of the complexities having to be dealt with, issues we normally only see through the eyes of the media back home – and then it is what they want us to see not necessarily the whole picture.”
Daniel and Chantale were finishing their time in Hazorea and returning home to Holland after a holiday in Tel Aviv and after the seminar “will be leaving with many more questions than before.”
“The volunteers have attested to the importance we at the KPC and Givat Haviva attach to such seminars by giving really excellent feedback, both verbally and in writing, and we hope to continue offering this unique experience to the overall one of working, living in kibbutz and traveling around Israel to those volunteers who really want to learn more about the country,” said Aya Sagi, Director of the Kibbutz Programs Center situated in Tel Aviv.
volunteers visiting the village of Barta’a
There are plans underway presently to organize a number of events in Europe and Scandinavia during November to attract former volunteers to reconnect with their kibbutz past and hopefully continue to assist in telling others about their own experiences in Israel and encourage them to come as well,” explained Aya.
The events will be centered around the 100th anniversary of the founding of the first kibbutz and another gala event planned to attract former volunteers and their families for a return visit to their kibbutz past will be held in Israel in June, 2011.
“With 350,000 former volunteers somewhere out there we are certainly hopeful that these events will be a success and ensure a continuation of the tradition of spending a few months experiencing kibbutz life here in Israel,” said Aya, the dynamic director of the KPC - a member of Kibbutz Tzora - who took up the Kibbutz Movement post last year.