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Group of Gray Academy Students who Went on P2K program.

 
VISITING KIRYAT SHMONA IN ISRAEL ON P2K- THE PROGRAM THAT CHANGED MY LIFE

by Baillie Shuster, November 26, 2010

Where to begin to describe this program that changed my life completely? I am not sure how I can put a life changing experience into a short article, but I will try my best. This journey began in grade seven when we were first introduced to the program I knew instantly that I needed to go on this journey myself hearing only amazing things after the return of students who were lucky enough to be chosen to go on P2K.

Once finally selected in grade 10 (by the way this was the best day of my life) I was so excited to finally get my chance to have fun and experience Israel on this program but little did I realize how much it would influence me.  I expected for it to be parties and to meet great Israelis and do programs, but in reality that would not even begin to describe what experiences I would have. We prepared often after school planning the programs and preparing Canada seminars for both our sister high school and the elementary schools we would visit.

Our delegation was becoming more and more like a family with each meeting. We all were friends before but by the end of the journey we were basically family. Not only were these the family members we made, I now have mishpacha living in Kiryat Shmona, which I wake up at 6:30 in the morning to talk to. And believe me waking up in the morning is not something I do easily… These amazing teenagers have become our closest friends after spending the best two weeks of our lives with them.

We learned so much about Israel by feeling like Israelis and living with our now second families. Some of the activities we did were visiting memorials for fallen soldiers, going on a memorial walk for one of our good friend’s fallen brother, visiting former war bunkers, renovating a youth recreation centre. We became close with our P2K family; we really honestly experienced the ups and downs of being an Israeli teenager in Kiryat Shmona. We spent days lounging by the Jordan River, playing basketball, and we felt deeply the loss on Yom Hazikaron and the excitement and pride on Yom Ha’atzmaut. We were welcomed into the community like visiting family, and that is the main reason I wanted to return in the summer on the P2K Summer Program. Now I feel like one of their own and I am considering making aliya in the future.

This trip transformed me as a person and I wish that I could give back what this trip has given me in life, but there is absolutely not enough I could ever do in return, that is how transforming and amazing it was. I am now part of that community, and whenever I hear in the news that something in Israel has happened I worry about my friends and family there. My friends are now getting their first calls into the army called Tzav Rishon and some are even going into the army. The thought of this scares me, I do not want anything to happen to my new siblings, and never did I ever think that this program would have this affect on me.

 P2K does not only affect the students I see the influence on my own family.My mom is in contact with my host families and it is amazing to know I have a family there waiting for me to come visit again. I have never experienced the range of emotions I have felt from my P2K experiences both in April and in the summer, There is not a day that goes by without me reminiscing about the good old days of P2K, that is how much it has changed me, and I owe that to the Jewish Federation. I can honestly say that if I have not cried by now, that is quite the accomplishment because whenever I start to talk so deeply about my life changing experiences it makes me want to cry.

Without this program I do not know where I would be. I found my passion in life and that is because of P2K, so thank you to all those who changed my life…

 
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

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