To Israel and Beyond: Youth ambassador program sends students to Israel

Old City from the Mount of the Olives

By Eden Ovadia

Beginning on October 18, eight Granada Hills Charter High School (GHC) students will have the opportunity to partake in the American Israel Friendship League (AIFL) youth ambassador student exchange program. The youth ambassadors will travel to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Israel as well as Washington D.C. and New York City.

Through this program, students from grades ten and eleven will open up their homes to an Israeli student of the same gender and age for four weeks. The students chosen are Veronica Reyes, Armando De Luna, Sofia Harris, Xitlali Velazquez, David Solomon, Daniela Oliveros, William Bacon, Isaac Graham, Logan Fraigun, and Nicolas De La Cerda.

To be chosen for the program, these students had to write an essay stating why they believe they should be chosen as a participant. The applicants also had to get two letters of recommendation, one from a teacher.

The Israeli travelers will make their way from Israel to California and spend a week with their American host families. During the first week, GHC students will go to school as usual and the Israeli ambassadors will have one to two days of school where they will take special classes that teach them about American culture. During the students’ free time, host families are given “family time” to take the Israeli youth ambassadors to landmarks in California and introduce them to American culture.

On October 25, both Israeli and American youth ambassadors will fly together to Washington D.C., where they will visit landmarks such as the U.S. Capitol, the White House, the Arlington Memorial Cemetery and much more. A few days after exploring Washington D.C., the students will take a bus to New York City and spend a couple of days there.

Finally, on October 31, the students will all fly together to Israel. Their journey in Israel will begin in Tel Aviv and continue in Jerusalem. In Jerusalem, the students will visit holy Jewish, Christian, and Muslim sites as well as touring places such as the Dead Sea and Masada.

Five days later the students will transfer back to Tel Aviv where they will not only tour the area, but will also partake in cultural activities and workshops. In Tel Aviv students will be able to take Hebrew lessons, cook, dance, and learn about the different parts of Israel.

In the final week, the American youth ambassadors will stay with their Israeli hosts’ families, go to school with them, and participate in their families’ daily routines.

The youth ambassadors will return home on November 15.

“You learn something about yourself that can really take you places you’ve never even thought of, ” Sammy Fishbach, an alumni from the trip said about his experience at the informational meeting for the trip.

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