Sunday, June 12, 2011

Baltimore Diller 2008 Alumni back in Ashkelon

We have just said goodbye to a delegation of nine Diller Alumni, who visited Ashkelon from 26th May until 9th June, with their coordinator Elise Henry.. The Baltimore teens were warmly welcomed and hosted in the homes of their Ashkelon Diller partners from 2008. The Ashkelon teens are now all in the army serving their compulsory military service, but somehow managed to get some time off from the IDF to spend quality time with their friends from Baltimore. After all the skype, facebook and emails, a face-to-face meeting was appreciated. You can't hug via facebook!

Ashkelon's AMEN coordinator Dafna Biton put together a schedule that was jam-packed with activities. Among other volunteer activities, the teens packed Shabbat food parcels for the underprivileged at Matan BeSeter ("give Charity secretly"), worked in the secondhand clothing store for teens, volunteered with the kids at Beit Canada absorption center for Ethiopian new immigrants,  at Halperin Center for the Elderly, at kindergartens for special needs kids and with "Knafayim shel Crembo" (Wings of Crembo) youth group for disabled kids.

The Baltimore teens connected with all their good friends in Ashkelon; enjoyed shwarma, felafel, humous and cous-cous;  swam in the Mediterranean sea; volunteered in different programs all over the city; painted a colourful mural; took part in various social activities; and of course visited Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, the Dead Sea and even the Kinneret. One highlight was a visit to the army base, in the baking hot desert, where Noy is doing her military service.
Most of all, this trip was about connection. Connection between Diller friends in Baltimore and Ashkelon. Connection with old friends and new friends. Re-connection with the city and people of Ashkelon, and with Israel, and with the Diller ideals of leadership, and volunteerism in the community.
We hope to see you all again soon! Lehitraot !  

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