My year in Israel was a life changing opportunity. I came expecting to see some cool things, travel around the country, work on a "Jewish farm", and study a little. What I found in Israel was a study program that equipped me with more than "just" intellectual knowledge but with the practical knowledge of how to understand and care about the people around me. I found a program that forced me to balance my time wisely between personal study, required program activities, and social activities (which were my responsibility to form and follow up).
I spent part of my year focused on my team and studies until I finally realized if I wanted to make friends with the people on the kibbutz, I had to go out and visit them myself! Nobody was forcing me to "make friends" or spend time "socializing". I found the people on the kibbutz to be open and warmhearted beyond anything I could have imagined! I know it sounds like an obvious statement...but these people are not American! The kibbutznik is not a closed and cold individual that one must make an appointment to visit! These people are hospitable and social in a way that is foreign to the American mind-set. Some of the richest and most caring relationships I have are those I formed by visiting kibbutzniks that I worked with and met in Israel.
Upon leaving this program I realized that my life had been changed far more than I had anticipated! Israel became a part of who I am and greatly influenced how I value time and people. Although no program is perfect or fitting for everybody, I want to say an heart-felt thanks to BII for making this opportunity available for me and many others! Thank you BII!!!!