By Eli Newman, Desert Sports Challenge
I decided to join the Desert Sports Challenge program because I loved every aspect of it. I came to Nitzana because I missed the way I felt from the first time I came to Israel. The thoughts of living permanently in a community in the middle of the Negev hadn’t really crossed my mind. All I thought about was getting to learn Hebrew, become as fit as possible, and travel around Israel for 5 months. All of which costs me next to nothing.
My favorite part of the program has been learning the languages. There are 100 Russians living as our neighbors. Twenty are in the Russian version of the same Masa Israel program. Eighty are in a program called MIR that prepares Russian high school graduates for the army or an Israeli University, by teaching them math, English, and Hebrew. There are also a few French people here in Nitzana on a mission to show Europeans how real Israelis live. Nitzana is as much the middle of nowhere as it is the middle of everywhere. Still, I would say that trying to refresh my French, study Hebrew at ulpan, and learn Russian from my neighbors is making my first month at Nitzana quite an experience.