Illuminating Passions, Illuminating the World

Two weeks ago, I attended a seminar entitled The Art of Making Change in Kibbutz Harduf. As a participant on Onward Israel, the program which has afforded me the opportunity to live and intern in Israel for the summer, I received a list of weekend seminars, all containing a specific theme, to choose from. The consequences of my decision turned out to be one of the most wonderful experiences of my life.

I, along with 7 other participants from my program (participants who also chose to attend this seminar), arrived on a Thursday night to the kibbutz. We arrived to meet 63 other individuals from alternative Onward Israel programs, and we collectively introduced the night with a bonfire. The environment was breathtaking; we stayed in a forest, surrounded by raw nature, and the community that our hosts welcomed us in is environmentally friendly, sustainable, and organic. During the bonfire, we were given a brief summary of the activities to follow for the next two days, all of which were based around the theme of “tikkun olam”, which in Hebrew translates into “repairing the world.”

The days that followed were filled with thought-provoking activities and meaningful conversations. The common denominator between us all was the fact that we all were passionate about making the world a better place. I think by far the most amazing element I’ve taken away from this experience is the connections I have made with others. The deep conversations I had with fellow participants allowed me to see others in a clarity far beyond the levels of small talk. To listen to people’s passions, to listen to people’s insecurities, and to listen to their nonverbal communication translated into such a raw and distinct image of each individual. Suddenly, it was as if any barrier of bias or assumption that separated us before seemed to break down with more conversation, until I saw who they really were: human.

I returned back to Jerusalem with a lingering euphoria and an altered perspective. Entering my internship anew, I perceived Hut HaMeshulash differently; I realized, with greater appreciation, how each of my coworkers is performing their duties for a higher service. Each individual, whether it’s the CFO or the Office Manager, is interdependent on one another to produce the whole of this nonprofit organization, which, as a whole, creates social change.  Reflecting on my own role, I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to peer into the life of this selfless organization, specifically within the realm of resource development. This experience, along with my experiences at The Art of Making Change seminar, have given me the tools to understand changemaking at experiential and collaborative levels. Experientially with Hut HaMeshulash, as I’ve participated and seen first hand how a social service organization thrives in order to produce social change, and collaboratively with The Art of Making Change seminar, as I witnessed how individuals with a passion to change the world can work together to materialize those passions into a future reality.

About the Author
Allie Vaknin is an American student at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, where she studies Human Communication, Sociology, and International and Global studies. She is currently participating in a two-month internship program in Jerusalem, and she is enthusiastic to share her experiences while living and working in Israel.