One year ago…

Exactly one year ago I landed in Tel Aviv and I was on my way to Bar’am.

My flight was on the 6th at night and my mom called me like 3 times asking me if I was sure I wanted to go because she had heard on the radio something about Syria…But I really wanted to go even though I wouldn’t know until the following where I would live for the next 3 months.

After I left the office I had 5 hours of travel. 5 hours to wonder if I had picked a “good” kibbutz, if I would enjoy it there, if this wasn’t a big mistake after all? But as soon as I met the volunteers it was fine. Better than that actually.

So what happened since?  Where am I now ? What did I get from this?

In the kibbutz I lived surrounded by people 24hours a day, with so many different nationalities and languages spoken. My Bar’am family spreads all over the world. In June I will visit some of my closest friend from the kibbutz, in Sweden :)

After 3 amazing months there I left. That was heartbreaking. I have never cried when leaving a place or a country because I felt it was time to move on, but the kibbutz that was something. I cried in the volunteer office, while handing my keys, in the car to Tel Aviv, in the hostel, at the airport, in the plane. Almost non stop until the plane landed in Paris and when my mom asked on the phone if I was happy to be home I said “NO” I didn’t want to speak because I was too sad.

I was very excited to go to Denmark then because I hated being home but what wasn’t good is I still had in mind the kibbutz and how I missed it. So I was a sad person for some time.

Have you heard of the cultural shock ? Because in September I was right in. Basically you can’t deal with the “strangeness” of the new place you are so you close down. After being extra social 3 months, I was “extra alone” for a little while. Luckily the volunteers with me were incredibly sweet and nice.The Danes I met weren’t so terrible people, it was just..the circumstances were difficult.

The Danes are probably the most individualistic people I have ever met, (not in a bad way) comparing to other places I lived in. So imagine the transition between a place where people come to be social all the time and have fun, and a place where people have a specific goal, want to work hard on themselves, stay focused.Plus they have their life here already, with friends etc…So it’s understandable it was harder to connect at first. It was a bit like the Israeli members or the kibbutz, they have their life their and you are one more volunteer passing…

It was challenging but I adapted ok I guess, even if it took time. I became more flexible at work.

I wasn’t so convince by my volunteer work here, however I really like how people work in Denmark. You don’t have the hierarchy like in France, where the boss give you order you will follow, I feel it’s more equal, my mentor give me ideas and what he has in mind but then we are really free to try what we want. So I developed skills and tried things I didn’t think I would have the opportunity to do elsewhere.

I also had to question my self a lot. Especially because I was very negative when I came to Denmark, and it was easier to blame everyone else but myself for that.

It may seem a contradiction because everybody thinks Danish don’t express their feelings but I improved a lot with this here!

In France we like to be emotional, sometimes dramatic and we think that we communicate well this way. Well not really, we just hope everybody will guess what is on our mind just looking at our face and being angry when something is wrong will be enough for it to change. Here it doesn’t work (it didn’t work in the kibbutz either…I didn’t realize it, that’s all) so even if it might be hard for me I have to use words and not my face because I understood people aren’t psychic. I feel happier this way trust me :)

I had incredible experiences in both places (and more to come!): hitch hiking, meeting amazing people ( I am proud to prove my dear Martin, that yes there are actually nice Danes in Denmark, and some have empathy!!! ;) ), visiting beautiful places, trying new food…

Today I am happy because the friends I met one year ago in Israel are still close to me, we manage to see each other and I would have not imagine having such friendship. I wonder if in one year I will still be in touch with the friends I have here, I hope so, but I don’t even know where I will be so…for now I will just enjoy it :)

I think I am a happier person now that one year ago even if it wasn’t easy everyday and that’s nice!!!

Advertisements

Why did you decide to come here?

That’s it, I am not in the kibbutz anymore. Well at least not physically but in my head I am still there.

This experience was really incredible, and I understand now why most of the people I know that have been there said that.

One of my biggest question when I arrived was, why people come here? What kind of people do you find volunteering in a kibbutz, especially in 2013? And why? When I told my parents I was going, they wondered why was I doing this to them? It was cool in the 70’s but you can do fruit picking in France right?

It’s not the 70’s anymore

The volunteer movement changed a lot because the reason for volunteering changed. The movement started because of the war, kibbutzim needed help to keep working so people who would go there, were more politically engaged and wanted to support the kibbutz, they would also be older sometimes leaving university or taking a break from work.

And some stayed in Israel, they are now married or have children! I have seen a lot of ex volunteers in my kibbutz!

But let’s go back to the one I met, during these 3 incredible monthes. I can’t really say they are politically engaged some don’t really know much about the situation. My self I don’t really have an opinion, its’ very complicated.

However even if we come from all around the world and have big cultural differences, I could see some similarities.

I was also very surprised to see big group from one country. For example they are so many Korean! I didn’t expect that! Same goes for South American and South African. Of course there were some of my fellow Europeans! But mostly Scandinavian, I don’t really know why it’s a bigger thing in some countries but it is not even related with being jewish because not many volunteer were jewish.

Need to leave

The reason for volunteering are often very similar: You are in a situation, you have to make choices. You just finished high school, or quit a job, finished university or had a bad break up, kill your self at work or realize actually you hate it so much. So they need a change, a big one. Travels are literally a way to distance yourself from your problems.

In my case, I was feeling I was going nowhere in France, I had no career started, my friends where living far away, nothing much to look forward, feeling I don’t belong there. I didn’t feel I was ready to work, the situation in France make you feel quite miserable when it comes to work. It is quite depressing especially in my field. I wanted to do something different where I don’t have to worry and I can meet people, learn about another culture. Two friends I met in England did it and the experience they described me seemed so amazing, I started to look for information. Sometimes it can be your parents that have been there and encourage you to do the same, or maybe you find out about it randomly while looking for what  to do during a gap year. It seemed to be a great opportunity for me I had the time to do it.

Don’t worry…

I think it is indeed a break, all the everyday worries you have back home are not there: worry about cooking, doing your laundry, transportation, paying your bills.. Yes sometimes work can be tiresome, you can have a hard day, but you  know that you won’t stay there forever, that cutting carrot isn’t your life, that it’s ok if you put an apple B in a a box of apple C (well maybe you won’t work in apple anymore ) it’s very unlikely you will wake up in the middle of the night worrying about your job (maybe just wondering if tomorrow is your day off…).

Therefore you can focus on one thing: enjoying the moment!

Group

My home away from home

I didn’t expect to feel like home that quickly, to feel so good in a foreign country so easily! I think everything is different in the kibbutz: It’s more intense, but also relaxed and more spontaneous. The first week, even if I was new I would never feel alone because you will always find someone to talk to or hang out with. You build friendship and trust people faster than back home,and I think it’s because people feel that here no one knows them, we are equal. It’s always surprising when you here a volunteer saying “Oh back home I was a lawyer “or a journalist or some other “serious job” because here this one packs apples or works in dinning.

It really becomes a family, a feeling I have even more now I left. I was really amazed that with all these different nationalities and of course cultural differences everyone is so open and welcoming. You can’t be good friend with each volunteers but overall there is a sense of community and being together that is very strong. I think you feel free to be your self as cheesy as it sounds but  it’s the truth for me. There are no expectations from people so you can feel more free.

Safe Bubble

This environment makes you feel safe, like you are in a bubble.

People may not think of this feeling of safety before going, especially because going abroad is in a way putting your self in danger, in a “strange” environment. But unconsciously we want to feel safe and it makes even more sense knowing that a lot of us when we arrive, are trying to escape our problems. We hope that when we go home everything will be better even if often  the problems are still there waiting for us but we grew up in the meantime. No matter how long you stay, the kibbutz changes you.

Images d’Israel

It’s really hard for me to keep the pace and write regularly. First of all I doubt you would be interested to know every details of my every day life, like how do I cut the carrots when I am working in kitchen or how long did I stay at the pool the other day… I want to focus on topic that everyone can find interesting even if not living in a kibbutz and it takes time! One coming soon about volunteers, who volunteers in a kibbutz nowadays is a big question and one of the first people ask you when you are here!

And once you get to know more Israeli thousand of questions pop up in your head and there are so many subjects to write about!

In the meantime I want to share some pictures I took while here.

First This one is one of the first place I visited. We went on a hike to the Mount Meron which is the highest in the official borders of Israel. It was cloudy that day but the view was incredible!

Second and Third Our First day trip was to the Sea of Galilee. For lunch we went to another kibbutz that is right on the sea, Ein Gev. We also realised that we are lucky being in Bar’Am, spoiled kids really! However this is what the Ein Gev volunteers can enjoy everyday

Yes that’s us on the platform (well not me I was taking the picture…)

Fourth Here some volunteers trying to look as fierce as pirates, while we were sailing on the Sea of Galilee. Liora our coordinator made us a very nice surprise renting a boat with music and we sailed for an hour.

Last The view is terrific!

That’s all for now but I promise to be back as soon! In the meantime if you wish to read about any specific subject related to Israel feel free to post in the comment or contact me :)

Yalla bye!

Volunteer in Bar’am

So it has been three weeks since I arrived in the kibbutz. It’s in the North near Lebanon, I can actually see Lebanon from there (It’s crazy to think that I can’t cross the border though…border made by an English and a …French yes!).

During my journey in the bus I was amazed by the view because this country is incredible, it’s so beautiful!

What’s a kibbutz? 

A kibbutz is a community, a village if you prefer, that put everything in common, people work and live together (not exactly but at first it was like this) and receive what they need.

So my kibbutz is quite unique (but each kibbutz is different anyway). First it’s a “big” one there are about 290 adults members and around 40 volunteers, plus the children, so about 500 people I guess. It’s also as a friend said, a “stubborn” kibbutz as they want to keep the original concept intact and not privatise as it has been the case in other kibbutzim, they are quite conservative.

The kibbutz is wealthy. They earn a lot of money from the plastic factory but also from fruit production.

You have access to anything you need and even more. My roommate has to give me a complete tour of the kibbutz but it’s really big, it’s like a village. The places that volunteers know the most are the shop named Kolbo (you can’t pay with money, they give you a card and you add money on it, so when I say you don’t use money here you really don’t!), the pub but it’s being renovated and the swimming pool that opened maybe two weeks after I arrived! Several nights per week a cafe called members club opens for the evening, where you can enjoy drinks etc…There are several sports ground and many bomb shelters! Ours has been flooded, so we can’t use it anymore, it was a temporary solution for us to party while the pub was being renovated…

What do you do there?

Here as a volunteer I work about 8 hours a day. First I was in the apple factory and orchards, so picking fruits and packing them. After a week I was moved to kitchen and I enjoy much more! We help preparing the food for the people eating at the dinning room, the entire kibbutz don’t eat there of course, but enough people coming everyday to keep the dinning room open. As volunteers we don’t pay the food. Actually we don’t pay for anything, apart if we want to smoke or drink everything else, is free! It’s something interesting, because you don’t have to worry about money here, everything you need is provided. And the job you are doing isn’t the same because you are not paid, it’s like a direct transaction, against your work you receive what you need and actually even more.

The group of volunteers here is awesome. The night I arrived was pub night so I had a really warm welcome and partied with others! I felt integrated in no time. I share a room with a Danish guy named Martin, people call him Crazy Martin but I learnt that after moving in with him (If I had knew…. no Martin you know I am joking ;) ). He is crazy about hikes and think Danish lack of empathy. He is obsessed with croissant.

People comes from everywhere, we have a big group of Korean, Scandinavian, and South American. I am the only French now ,but people keep coming and going, since I arrived I think about 12 people left and as much arrived. The one staying are our two coordinators ,Liora she is a member from the kibbutz I don’t know how long she has been here but a very long time, and Lena who came here about 10 years ago .

Talking about people living here permanently, they are called members.

It takes about a year and a half to become one and then you have access to all the facilities and have also all the rights (and responsibilities)  such as participating in the general assembly and a lot more…They don’t receive a salary but a certain amount of money according their needs, so it depends the size of the family, age of the people etc…and a lot of complicated calculation that I don’t know.Basically it’s not about the work you are doing, everyone is equal. This is why the money you get isn’t technically a salary . However a lot of kibbutzim changed and now some of them actually pay their members. Members also own their house, whereas here in Bar’am you don’t, the kibbutz is owned by everyone. You live in a house but it’s not “yours”.

I have still a lot to write about so I will tell you more in another article but I hope this help you to understand what is a kibbutz, but share if you have questions or information as well if you have been to a kibbutz or are currently living in one!

Yalla bye :)

Kibbutz website (check the photos gallery!)

Balagan

Je suis arrivée mardi à 5h à Tel Aviv. Mes premières impressions alors que je devais me rendre au bureau de KPC pour savoir où j’allais:

-Le coté bâtis à la va vite, les câbles pendent d’un peu partout, c’est assez étrange, il y a aussi un drôle mix d’architecture des truc laid comme magnifique.

-Un mix de gens assez spécial aussi, il y a de tout! Des gens de toutes les origines, de tous les styles c’est assez troublant.

-Peut être pas autant que le nombre impressionnant de jeunes en uniformes. Et oui les Israéliens ont leur services militaires dès 18 ans, 3 ans pour les garçons et 2 pour les filles. Donc on voit des jeunes assez décontractés en uniformes partout. Mais vraiment PARTOUT même dans le kibboutz c’est assez drôle car ils n’ont pas du tout l’air de militaire, ils ont l’attitude de n’importe quel jeune vraiment.

-Aussi, un couchsurfer m’avait conseillé de connaître quelques mots avant d’arriver dont balagan. Et bien c’est exactement ça balagan, c’est ce coté chaotique, un grand bordel mais qui marche quand même pas si mal!

-Durant mon attente pour le bus une femme à côté de moi qui ne parlait pas un mot d’anglais me donnait régulièrement des oranges confites c’était très bon!

Bien sûr durant la journée je me suis souvent demandé mais qu’est ce que je fous là! Mais ça c’était avant d’arriver dans mon kibboutz et là tous les doutes ont disparu. Une amie qui a été dans un kibboutz m’avais conseillé de demander, un kibboutz avec beaucoup de monde. Donc j’avais le choix entre un kibboutz dans le nord près de la frontière libanaise et un dans le sud vers Eilat. Le désert ne me tentait pas et j’avais un peu peur d’être aussi près de la frontière libanaise mais finalement j’ai choisi Bar’am.

Donc une heure après me voilà dans le bus qui m’emmène au train qui m’emmène à Haifa ou je prendrais un bus qui va jusqu’à Baram.

Donc 4-5h de trajet en comptant les attentes etc…

J’étais un peu en stress dans le bus j’avais peur de rater l’arrêt, finalement le chauffeur était très sympa donc je n’ai eu aucun soucis et on ne peut pas rater le kibbutz, c’est plutôt une sorte de village , c’est le genre de lieu unique en son genre qui n’existe qu’en Israël, c’est fou, c’est surréaliste, mais c’est juste génial.

Mais ça j’en parlerais plus tard ;)

 

6th May 2013

IsraelEn français ici

Monday I am leaving for Israel.

My visa has been approved, my tickets are booked and I hope that I don’t forget anything while packing! I’ll do my best to post about my stay there. I’ll be working in a kibbutz, if you don’t know what it is, look it up to have an idea of the origin and history as it’s quite different nowadays.

Here the definition from KPC (the organisation you go with to volunteer in kibbutz)

WHAT IS KIBBUTZ?

Kibbutz means group in Hebrew. It is a modest name for something unique: a voluntary democratic community where people live and work together on a non-competitive basis. Its aim is to generate an economically and socially independent society founded on principles of communal ownership of property, social justice, and equality.

The first kibbutzim (plural of kibbutz) were organized by idealistic young Zionists who came to Palestine in the beginning of the 20th Century. Their dream was not just to settle the land it, but to build a whole new kind of society. Despite many hardships, they succeeded in creating a social system and a way of life which has played a crucial role in the development of the State of Israel both culturally and politically.

You can find more info on their website.

I don’t know yet where I’ll be this is the surprise. I arrive at Tel Aviv early morning on Tuesday and then go to the office, there according the places available I’ll know where I go. You don’t necessarily pick the kibbutz, I guess if several have places you can maybe decide…I’ll see by my self!

What I found funny is Israel is about the size of Brittany in France! So I hope to travel around when I am there to see as much as I can and discover the culture. I will try to make some videos of my trip, eventually post them here!

If you have been to Israel or plan to go there, or even live there, let me know I would love to hear your thoughts about this country!

Ready to Go!

Finally! Yes, finally, I am going again…MAYBE!

While I was in Zambia, I met many volunteers, two of my friends from the group went volunteering in a kibbutz in Israël, so you guess where I am heading next!

If everything is fine, in one month I’ll be in the plane to Tel Aviv! So how this works? Well both of my friends went there through KPC the organisation that do volunteer program in Kibbutz. IYou have to be fit to be able to work outside (for example agricultural work) and it takes about a month to do the paperwork. Then it depends availability of course!

So I sent my application this week end so very soon I’ll know if I can go and when, which is very exciting! I’ll be there for 3 months, so I will tell you about my experience there.

sac

Another good news is we are approaching the next EVS deadline. Do you remember when I told you I was looking for a European Volunteer Service? Well, there is 3 deadlines to apply every year. Basically when you find an organisation, she will send the application for the 1st February/1st May/1st October. I sent some in February but wasn’t selected.

This time I applied for more projects (about 7 but I only applied to projects I can see my self doing, not to have more chances to go)So around May just before leaving to Israël, I will know if I have been selected!

Also, I started a group on Facebook posting about vacancies when people know them because if you are looking for an EVS, you know how the website is helpful regarding deadlines etc…it’s a shame because organisation receives tons of emails of people who just want to know when to apply and the people don’t necessarily get the answer! It would be nice if they can clear this point on the database at least! I think one website for application should be made but I guess it’s quite complicated to do?

So sometimes I receive questions about EVS, I thought I could answer them here:

  • Who should I contact first?  Well ideally it’s better to get in touch with a sending organisation first, they will give advices and they may know about vacancies you didn’t heard about. Plus it is mandatory to have a sending organisation, a volunteer can’t go on their own! So sooner or later you will need one. I found mine at the beginning, they support you, and they can also contact organisation for you (some can’t respond to each volunteer asking questions, but they will respond to their colleagues for example!). However, nothing stops you to look for interesting project on the database while you are waiting to meet your sending organisation.

 

  • I found a project but I have no idea how to apply! This happens, every time almost! It’s not really how, I guess it’s WHEN. What I did at first was sending emails, but i wouldn’t have any answers, or too late so the best is to call. It may be scary if you don’t speak their language or even english, but you have to try seriously it’s so really effective you have your answer in 5 secondes and they can give you advice about the application process. About the process it self, usually you send a cover letter and your CV before the deadline. Some organisation have very specific application deadline, for example for May, a lot of them are accepting application until the 1st of April and now they are selecting. A good thing to do is to check their website. There are also websites posting vacancies, check the list below.

 

  • I got a positive answer but I applied for several project, can I change my mind? Yes and No. I would say no. Once you are committed to a project you can’t keep looking hoping to find something better. So you can’t change your mind. However if something unexpected happened: a job offer, someone dies, you have an injury etc… if you didn’t fill any paper, it’s fine you call your sending organisation and explain you aren’t available anymore. However I don’t know how it works if it happens just before going, I guess it depends the reason.The sending organisation is the first to call in this situation anyway!

If you have any questions feel free to ask in the comments.

You can check this links as well:

Write your Cv at EU format: https://europass.cedefop.europa.eu/en/home

Vacancies: http://www.sve.pt/vagas/abertas http://www.youthnetworks.eu/