Could you provide a short background of yourself, before coming to EMIS? Your gap year?
I grew up in Innsbruck, Austria, lived there, and went to school there all my life, except for when I left for my exchange year [to] the UK in 2011, and then I went to UWC Adriatic, which resided in me taking this gap year. During the summer I mostly went backpacking, to explore the different cultures we hear about so much and to actually live them, which was an interesting experience. For the first three months, I worked with my aunt who has an art school for children. Then I traveled around the UK, and came to EMIS.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
Close future: I see myself in Austria, because I have some projects planned there. Then I will be around in Europe. My sister is also taking a gap year, so we are trying to find a project together… My gap year is organized quite spontaneously; I think is also a beautiful aspect of it as well.
Long-term future: I see myself studying at university, hopefully a visual arts course. However I would be interested in drama and maybe, (EMIS brought me closer to this) studying the educational aspect of things (such as a teacher). Maybe learning how to teach drama.
Do you think you will go to university in Austria or abroad?
I would really like to study at a university abroad. Once you go abroad, there’s this certain spark. It gives me a lot being surrounded by people from different background and cultures because I feel like it already provides a base for deeper conversations. It’s maybe harder to connect with them because of differences, but when you overcome these differences it’s more intense and special.
How, why and with what aims did you decide to come to EMIS?
How: I took part in the Arava short course in 2012. At that time EMIS was just an idea; it didn’t exist yet. They talked with so much passion and vision about the whole place which made it very appealing. And then, I went to school with Ella. She told me “you know, EMIS exists… it’s the place to go.” “It was an instant yes.” So, I wanted to come to Israel first and then I heard about the school, and ended up here.
Aims: To be able to take my knowledge and experience that I gained, and to put in into practice in a place that would truly benefit from it.
What did you imagine EMIS to be like before you came and what do you think right now?
Before I came I thought of it to be like a utopian place… I had high expectations. I also added a little spice of my own experience.
How did your opinion about EMIS change?
It’s not perfect, but that’s not a bad thing. It is still growing, it has a lot of potential. I’m really glad that I got to see it.
How would you describe your stay?
I would definitely stay longer if I could for another month or two. It took time to understand the place, and to get to know the people. Obviously, they are amazing, and I feel that time is too short to dedicate all the time I wanted to all the people here. However, I feel like my time was affirmative, a great learning experience and it is something that will definitely define my gap year, if you ask me in a year or two.
What are some of the accomplishments you have made?
Accomplishments: the little things; help to students, being able to help with the organization of project week and see all of the student’s amazing eye-opening experiences; the open stage night.
Can you tell me about a lesson EMIS has taught you, or a lesson you learned at EMIS?
The biggest lesson is that if you have a vision, and enough energy and dedication, you can achieve it. Maybe it won’t work out like you expected it to in the first place, but if you keep working on it, you can make it interesting. A dream can truly become a reality.
How do you feel about the EMIS students and community?
I see them living in the place, making something out of it. The community aspect was highlighted specifically last night at the open mic. I could see how people supported each other and are eager to hear each other. There is a big potential in making this community a big family.
If you were to change one thing at EMIS, what would it be, why and how?
Maybe having a bit more structure in the day just for students.
Use 5 words to describe your EMIS experience.
Can you offer your advice for:
a future IB DP candidate? Try to still enjoy life. Do something every day not for the diploma, but for yourself.
an EMIS student? Try to find a way to interpret the mission for yourself.
a future volunteer? Take initiative. Don’t be scared to jump into the ice cold water.
A big thank you for this and the opportunity to be heard, even though I only stayed here for a month. Thanks for welcoming me so fully, and letting me be part of this!
Interviewee: Florentina Abendstein
Interviewer: Anna Kraeftner
Transcription: Hannah Cook
Editor: Emily Perotti
Photographer: Shy Zvouloun