Hello, there! Hope all is well with you! I’ve gotten to catch up with a lot of people at home, but remained kind of a homebody for the summer. I spent most of the time in between coming home from Israel and today at work. I worked at a local preschool where I entertained small humans with arts and crafts and duck noises. It was a blast, and they were adorable, but now on to my next venture.
I figured that the year ahead is going to be somewhat relatable to the past 5 months. If not only because it’s still my life, but also because I will be serving as the MASA Intern at The University of Florida for the 2012-2013 school year.
MASA (meaning “journey” in Hebrew) is the umbrella organization for all smaller groups with Israel programs. For any thing you are interested in, any thing you want to do, there’s most likely a MASA program dealing with that area. MASA programs are a minimum of 5 months, immersed in Israel with the requirements of taking a Hebrew course and doing a consistent volunteer project. On average, there are 10,000 people aged 18-30 on MASA programs in a given year with 60% of them being natives of North America. As MASA intern, it will be my job to become familiar with the MASA programs, encourage UF students to go on them, inform students of their opportunities and generate a relationship on campus with the State of Israel.
That being said, although my semester abroad qualified as a MASA program, I don’t know all there is to know about MASA and the amazing wonders that it has to offer. Thus, I find myself in St. Louis, Missouri, at The Hillel Engagement Institute. It is a 5 day conference of about 300 students from 50 different Universities in North America (including Canada, eh) for all of the different interns at Hillel. After an extremely smooth trip, I wound up on the campus of Washington University in St. Louis for the conference. I am staying in an immaculate and expansive suite style dorm with the other UF MASA Intern, Chelsea, and 2 interns from UCLA. We’re just thankful they didn’t house us with the FSU interns!
We were welcomed to the conference by Wayne Firestone, the President and CEO of Hillel. He spoke about the “3 Acts” of Jewish History based on a book by Max Dimont entitled “The Adventures of the Jewish People.” Firestone said that in the book, Dimont talks about the first two acts of our people – he tells of Moses, of King David, of the story of Mesada. However, the third act of the story is never told.
And that, Dimont says, is because it is the act that we are currently living in and we need to write ourselves into it. Firestone had us participate in an activity in which we were given a blank sheet of paper. On it, he told us to write what our Jewish world looked like. In an amazing utilization of technology, he had us text the words that we wrote down to a specific number and we watched the screen as a computer generated a graph of our answers. A majority of the audience responded with “family” “tradition” and “Israel.” From there, Firestone said, “We will always provide the paper, but the crayon is now in your hand.”
We then broke off into intern-specific meetings and met our fellow interns from around the continent. No campus has more than 2 MASA interns, making the group relatively small. We played some ice breakers, learned names, and learned a little bit more about what our job for the next year entails.
After dinner we went to an amazing place called The City Museum. If you’re in the area, it’s a must. It was a random compilation of tunnels, slides, climbing gyms, giant ball pits, rope wings, aquariums, and more. It was a playground for big kids – with really no other way to explain it.
So, first day? Great Success.