Hometown: Port Washington, NY
Gap Year Description:
I knew after going being Israel for four hours, during my Junior year of high school, that I needed to live there. The moment was when I woke up in a bus and saw the Negev desert illuminated by the full moon, shortly after landing.
I didn't consider a gap year until the spring of my senior year. I thought: I had been learning in a classroom for fifteen years! That is a long, long time. A one year break between my previous classroom education and the one at Middlebury would be positive and important.
For my gap year, I participated in a year-long Jewish leadership program in Israel called "Nativ," which means "path" in Hebrew. I was one of 90 other North American students. The first semester of the program was an academic semester in which I was at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. It wasn't as integrated as I thought it would be, in terms of the international students and Israeli/Palestinian students, but I loved learning Hebrew and engaging with Israel through academia. The second semester, I volunteered in a small town in the south of Israel called Yeroham, at a secular co-ed high school as an English TA and at a gymnastics after school program. I fell in love with Yeroham and the warmth of the people in the small community, and hope to return soon.
How it influenced your time at Middlebury:
Taking a gap year was an amazing and positive decision; it provided me with perspective and experiences that have allowed me to shape my Middlebury experience and take advantage of the amazing opportunities here. I have used my Hebrew, and knowledge of Israel in so many ways here, all of which have been meaningful for me. I encourage anyone who is considering a gap year to do it! It does not need to be fancy or abroad, but it is an important time to carve out space that allows for genuine inquiry and a sense of freedom.