As a member of The Conservative Yeshiva Volunteer & Study Program I have the incredible opportunity to study Hebrew at the Yeshiva and spend my afternoons volunteering through Skilled Volunteers For Israel. For six weeks, I will spend four days each week volunteering in a classroom at The Gan Beit Shmuel Pre School. I spend the afternoons helping to serve lunch, playing with the children, and aiding the teachers in whatever way that I can.
When beginning the program, in knew that I wanted to use the Hebrew that I have been learning while connecting with the Jerusalem community. I quickly realized that being at the Gan is a great way to learn Hebrew while getting to know an amazing classroom full of friendly students. After eating lunch, the kids have time to play in the classroom. Many of them like to play a puzzle game where they put on a mask, take puzzle pieces shaped like objects, and try to find where they fit into the board. Not only is it funny to watch them search for the right spot and wonderful to see how excited they become when they find it, but playing this game also helps me to learn the words to the different animals, toys, and clothes that are used as puzzle pieces.
Before starting the program, I already spoke a little Hebrew. Still, I knew that there were many things that I didn’t know and I realized that nothing compares to the learning that I have done while volunteering. I began to learn the names of the different foods that the kids eat for lunch, the names of their favorite games that we play together, and other phrases that have been useful both inside the classroom and around Jerusalem. Plus, the kids are ways willing to correct my Hebrew when I make a mistake and tell me what I meant to say. In the beginning, I was nervous that I would not be able to communicate in the classroom. While I still don’t know every word that is being said and I need to ask them to speak more slowly, I’ve realized now much can be learned volunteering in the classroom and how much can be communicated when playing games with a friendly smile. I am very grateful for Skilled Volunteers For Israel and that I was placed in such a welcoming classroom. While being in a classroom full of young kids can be tiring, I have absolutely loved getting to know the kids and I look forward to the next five weeks as I continue the program