Stretching limits and appreciating nature at Hakfar Hayarok

By Adi Raz, Because We Care
After graduating from Santa Clara University I was faced with the challenge of figuring out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I had studied psychology, but was a bit wary of the counseling profession and didn’t know if it was for me. I decided that I needed a change of scene to clear my head before I made any life altering decisions. I didn’t want to just take a vacation and be lazy for a while, I wanted to do something that would give back to the community. I decided to return to my place of birth, Israel.
A friend of mine turned me onto the Masa Israel website and I spent several hours reading through the myriad different programs available. When I read the description for Masa Israel’s Because We Care five-month-long volunteer program I was instantly intrigued. I liked the fact that it was hosted at Hakfar Hayarok, The Green Village, in Ramat Hasharon. Not only would I be close to my family that lived in Tel Aviv, but I would be in the perfect location for all the fun things that the Tel Aviv area had to offer. I was also intrigued by the idea that the program was located at a boarding school that was also a working farm. I have never been a huge nature lover, so I was interested in this opportunity to stretch my limits.
The program itself was exactly what I was looking for. I got to choose my own internship at the Kfar, which for me was teaching English at the school and working with the Grade 10 boarding students. I even got to milk cows! I gained a greater appreciation of nature and got to know a lot of really amazing people. Over my months at the Kfar working with the kids I could tell that I was really making a difference. I discovered that I am really drawn to helping people, and especially to working with teenagers. I began to research graduate programs in counseling.
While in Israel I was chosen to be one of 40 participants from all of the Masa Israel programs to participate in a leadership program called Building Future Leaders (BFL). In this program I travelled to three weekend conferences in Jerusalem and went on amazing tours, attended interesting lectures, and made really great friends. The BFL series built on leadership skills that I already had and opened my eyes to new ideas that I brought back to my placement at HaKfar Hayarok.
Participating in the Because We Care program has literally changed my life. It gave me a newfound sense of purpose that I have taken back to the States. I am now about to enter my final year in a counseling psychology graduate program and will be working with children and adolescents at my internship placement next year. I am happy to say that I have kept in touch with my friends from the Because We Care and Masa’s BFL programs and am looking forward to a reunion trip in the future.

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