From making new best friends from different cultures to engaging in countless activities and stepping out of your comfort zone – Naale staff and students tell what boarding school is all about
For Naale students coming to study in a boarding school in Israel is a wonderful, exciting experience, and also something completely different from what they have ever experienced at home.
Working with some of the best boarding schools in Israel, Naale provides a unique opportunity for Jewish high school students from around the world to receive an excellent academic education in Israel, while also growing independently and gaining lifelong skills.
The program is not only an educational framework of excellence, but also includes a strong component of social and financial support for the student built into the system.
Naale is fully subsidized— including the airfare to Israel at the beginning of the program, room and board including three meals a day, off-campus travel expenses and all class trips.
“It is an amazing experience and it is also challenging at least at the beginning to move from their home to a different environment, sharing a room with roommates,” said Rachel Peretz, Naale coordinator at the Ayanot Jewish boarding school in Israel.
“That is also the magic of the program because the students are exposed to many different cultures and many different kids.”
Making new friends and finding your quiet space too
Students learn how to find their “quiet spaces” on campus, and also how to get along with other people from different cultures who may have different expectations and ways of doing things, she said.
The dorm buildings have a shared space with a living room and a kitchenette which is used as a communal gathering place for the students, she said, and the students quickly make this the place where they enjoy hanging out together to watch movies, play games on their Play Stations and prepare afternoon snacks—and sometimes midnight snacks as well.
For international students who want to experience life in Israel, studying at one of Naale’s boarding schools in Israel provides them with a safe environment to meet friends from all over the world and grow as individuals, Peretz said.
“In our boarding school there are 250 kids from all over the world and you connect with so many different friends, not just your roommates,” Peretz added. “That is the beauty of living in a boarding school.”
In the boarding schools, the Naale students’ dorm together in separate buildings, but also have plenty of opportunities to interact with Israeli students attending the boarding school, she said.
During the year, once the students at the boarding school get to know each other there are some room changes made in order to accommodate the friendships that have formed, Peretz added.
In addition to the academic curriculum provided by the school, Naale students are kept busy with the many options of extracurricular activities ranging from sports, music, art, and gardening.
“There are more than 20 different after-school active in sports, art and they have lots of outdoors activities,” she said.
Yoni, a student from London, studying at the Ayanot boarding school in Israel said outside of school he keeps busy spending time with friends doing extracurricular activities such as biking and playing football (soccer) or just hanging out watching movies.
A chance to step out of your comfort zone and do something new
“Naale is a real good opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and so something I have never done before,” said 12th grader Naomi Efron, from Los Angeles, California, who studies at the Naale Mosenson boarding school in Israel.
“My favorite thing about Mosenson is definitely the community. All of the counselors become parental figures and all of my roommates are like brothers and sisters. We do everything together. We study together, we work together. It is just a big family.”
“The coolest thing we did is to go on a school trip to a Bedouin village and spend the night there,” she added. “The food was delicious and the hospitality was awesome.”
Most of the international students who attend one of Naale’s boarding schools in Israel speak some English. Intensive Hebrew classes during the first year of studies enables the students to gain a fair grasp of the language, helping them to integrate into the Israeli environment and participate in the classes.
Naomi’s sister, Hana Efron, an 11th grader also now studying at the Mosenson boarding school in Israel said the ulpan classes studying Hebrew was time well-spent.
“It was very effective and I feel a lot more comfortable with the language now,” she said.
Josie, an Ayanot student from Sweden said she had always wanted to come to Israel and studying at one of the best boarding schools in Israel through the Naale program was a great opportunity.
“When I was younger I used to watch movies about boarding schools and to actually be living in a boarding school in Israel now is crazy,” she said. “There are so many people from different cultures. When I am not in school I usually am hanging out with friends or I play the drums or exercise.”
Friendly Israeli students and welcoming staff become like family
She was also pleasantly surprised to see how friendly the Israeli boarding school students are towards the international Naale students, Josie said. The local Israeli students are eager to get to know the international students and make connections with them, she said.
The “amazing” relationship between the staff and students at the boarding school in Israel has really made the experience of navigating new situations a very comfortable one, said Yonathan Powel, from England who studies at the Yeshivat Shaalvim boarding school.
“Naale is an amazing opportunity to come to Israel and get an amazing education from loving and caring staff members.
The biggest challenge for me coming to Israel was having to deal with problems normally adults deal with, but there is always a very supportive staff around who helps with this,” he said. “The coolest thing I have done on Naale is the yearly school trips we take.”
Thanks to the internet, students at Naale’s boarding schools in Israel are only a click away from a conversation with their parents and friends and family back home, and students are in daily contact with them making the transition to a boarding school in Israel much easier, said Peretz. Many parents also send care packages with favorite snacks and items from back home, which the students really enjoy receiving, she said.
Rachelle Paskovatyi, a student from Canada studying at Naale’s Ulpanat Amana Jewish boarding school in Israel said the other students she has met at the school have become like her family.
“I’ve lived with them for three years and we’ve become one,” she said. “It is an amazing experience. The Israeli students are so welcoming and they want to know more about where we come from. The staff has been very supportive. I like to do volunteer work on the side, and when I am not at school I am with my adoptive family—who are amazing—or with friends, or with family friends. I am all over the country!