Grade 8 Israel Trip Update – Day 7

Mifgash 2018   
Day 7
Today’s Jeep ride took us through the beauty of the Golan 
The weekend has come and gone and it was overwhelmingly uneventful. Dorin, Debbie, Matt, Lu, Corin and I were a pretty sad and boring bunch these last two days. With all the kids away with their host families, we found ourselves longing to do some proper chaperoning. And in the absence of our bustling group of 32 we found ourselves attempting to fill the void by herding a tour group of middle-aged Texans staying at our hotel for reasons we can’t quite discern. When they objected quite forcefully to our suggesting they break into groups to be counted, we decided we should find other ways to occupy our time.
 
Your children, in the meantime, were having excellent weekends exploring and enjoying the many features of the region. Along with a Thursday night party and a Saturday night group-bowling excursion, our students were taken to a number of places that included a tour of the Golan, a working trip to a chocolate factory horseback riding and the Manara Cliff Mountain slide. An apparatus that resembles a toboggan on a roller coaster track (I had to put it in a Canadian context for clarity). Based on the smiles in the picture, I’m guessing it goes pretty fast.




Despite the heaps of fun they clearly had on the weekend, they had enough energy this morning to be glad to see us as they arrived at school. We were treated to enthusiastic accounts of many of their eventful weekends as we spent a few minutes getting reacquainted. After a quick check for hats, sunscreen and water bottles, we prepared for our day on the Jeep trails through the Golan.
 
Now I’m a Jeep owner and very familiar with off-road 4-wheel driving (I take Cambie Street everyday on the way to work). But the Jeep ride today was something a little different. As near as I can tell ‘Jeep ride’ in Hebrew must mean bone rattling, white knuckle, gut-scrambling ride. I’m not kidding, when I’m done writing this I have to try to push my pancreas back in place.



 

The kids however, based on the smiles, loud music and shrieks of delight were having a slightly different experience. Visually, it was a spectacular ride as we ascended higher and higher up the side of the valley. But this was not mere sight-seeing-our ultimate destination was learning! After the aforementioned rattling of bones, we arrived at Kibbutz El Rom, which is the highest kibbutz in Israel. There, in a small movie theatre, we were treated to a brief documentary, on the tank battle in the Valley of Tears, which was part of the Yom Kippur war of 1973, where 44 Israeli tanks held off over 1000 Syrian tanks from entering Israel.


Then it was back into the Jeeps for a brief trip up to Mount Bental where we were able to look over the area of the battle. It’s a pretty striking sight to look out over the hills and the Syrian border in the distance. Muzzles from some of the tanks are displayed here along with hatch covers, chains and other military paraphernalia. Our kids spent some time exploring the remnants of two tanks before we loaded ourselves back into the Jeeps. After a quiet picnic lunch of falafel, (I know I’ve been going on for a while without mentioning any food!) we descended back down to the school on a slightly smoother semi-paved trail.



Back at school, we had a bit of time before the end of the day to connect with our Har Vagai Grade 8s. All of them together sat in the shade of the warm afternoon and each shared a thought or memory about the time they had spent together. These kids have really connected. It’s going to be an emotional morning tomorrow as they come together one last time to say good-bye.
 

As our kids spent their last night with their host families, we teachers had a lovely dinner with our Har Vagai counterparts. We were treated to an awesome meal at an Italian (with notable Israeli flair) restaurant. We really have been enjoying some great food as part of our trip despite what I’ve noticed here in Israel is a clear and unapologetic vegetable agenda.
 
You’ll next be hearing from me as we set up tent (literally) in Kfar Hanokdim.
 
Until then…
 Alex 
 

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