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Nov 25, 2015 By Jewish National Fund Category: Education,
U.S. teen finds new purpose 6,000 miles from home: 'I plan to make aliyah one day'
|Noelle Chin-Vance says her six weeks studying in Israel changed her. "I am no longer afraid to walk into the world and be myself," she says.|
Noelle Chin-Vance reflects below on the life-changing experience that was her time at Alexander Muss High School in Israel. Read on to find out how this American teen connected to her roots during her six weeks at the study-abroad program for high-schoolers. .
At a Save A Child's Heart Event.
There were certainly a lot of important moments along the way, like when I was adopted in May of 2000, at the age of 2, by my loving parents. I met many influential people throughout my educational adventures at Assurant Satellite Learning Center, Arvida Middle School, and finally at Terra Environmental Research Institute. I had many formative experiences during my summers at Camp Ramah Darom in Clayton, Georgia. All of these experiences helped make me who I am today.
But one life-changing experience stands out above all the rest. It began when I stepped onto a plane to Israel to join the Alexander Muss High School in Israel program.
My adventure began June 16, 2015. It was early in the morning. I was holding my book bag ready to board the plane to JFK, where I would board another plane to Israel. Though I was super excited, my hands were shaking. I was about to travel more than 6,000 miles from home to a school where I would not know a single soul so that I could learn the history of Israel and Judaism. I was nervous about meeting new people, but I knew that I would be OK. The flights were long and boring, but then something happened. The plane landed in Tel Aviv.
Eating ice cream in Tel Aviv.
Throughout the semester, I hiked all over Israel, from windy Tel Gezer to holy Jerusalem, and finally to the barren Negev desert. I learned one thousand years of Jewish history and made many new friends, all of them wiggling their way into my heart. Sure, I learned dates and facts and details, but in Israel, I found something even more amazing. I found myself. With every step of a hike and with each breath I took, I became more independent – a person who can take care of myself and others. Israel became my true home, where I really belonged.
At the AMHSI banquet.
Theodore Herzl said, "If you will it, then it is no dream," meaning that if we believe in ourselves, then nothing is impossible. I am no longer afraid to walk into the world and be myself. On this trip, I proved to myself that I can adapt to new environments and find the best in everything -- even scary things like traveling 6,000 miles from home and meeting new people.
I plan to make aliyah one day and return to the land where I found a deeper purpose. Alexander Muss High School in Israel changed my life. There in Israel, I found my true home and my true self.