Sunday, September 5, 2010

Boys Town Jerusalem

On Wednesday morning I had a meeting at Boys Town Jerusalem to coordinate my volunteer efforts and timing. After the Sukkot holiday, I will be volunteering at BTJ twice a week, helping teach kids English. I expect to be presented with a reciprocal learning opportunity in Hebrew, as I will be working with kids that don’t speak English well and will therefore have to communicate with them largely in Hebrew. I’m psyched, and hope they don’t think I am unintelligent based on my Hebrew level.

A little bit about the school – BTJ is a middle school and high school for more than 800 boys in Jerusalem that come from all over the country. Most of the kids come from underprivileged backgrounds and are on financial aid or scholarships. The school has a wide variety of programs that include integration programs for immigrant students from the Former Soviet Union, Morocco, Ethiopia and other countries. The school is an amazing melting pot of students from all types of varying backgrounds. I was impressed with the school’s strong focus on technology. Students are taught programming, robotics and other computer based skills by highly qualified engineers. The school also has a two year post-high school program that trains students in advanced computer skills, which the students then apply in their army service, many of them in the air force. One stark aspect of my tour of the facility was when we walked past a hallway end that had pictures on the wall of all of the students since the schools founding in the 40’s that had fallen in their service and defense of Israel. There were quite a few pictures, and it was moving to see the tradition and community BTJ has created.

I greatly look forward to spending more time there and will share good stories as they come.

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