Can you tell us about your time in Costa Rica?
I grew up in Costa Rica and attended UWC there as well, graduating in 2013. UWC was “hands down one of the most meaningful experiences of my life.” I met incredible people, did really interesting things and learned so much from the IB as well as my experiences [in Costa Rica]. It’s been three years since I graduated and each year since has been more and more meaningful in its own way.
Since then, I have spent a lot of time just getting to know people. I believe that the more you explore different societies and cultures, the more you discover how we are all the same and want the same things out of life.
What are your plans for next year?
In the near future, I see myself enrolling in University, probably Hebrew University.
In the long term, I want to keep exploring the world and seeing new places. I want to have a positive impact on the world.
How did you hear about EMIS?
I originally heard about EMIS towards the end of my UWC experience. On top of that, my sister participated in the Arava short course in 2013. The UWC community in Israel is pretty small, so also [by] word of mouth. I wanted to come here, see what I can do to help.
How did you picture EMIS before you came? How is that similar to or different from how you see it now?
I don’t build expectations before I go places. I knew what EMIS’ ideals were; I imagined it to be something like a UWC, because at the end of the day, it was built on those same principles.
How would you describe your role at EMIS?
I initially came thinking that I would work with Yuval in the CAS department. I also ended up working in residential life, which I’m happy to do. But, “I AM NOT A HOUSEPARENT.” I’m just here to help. I also took on a project myself to interview DP1, hearing what changes they want to see in the school next year.
Please reflect on the time you have stayed, and plan to stay at EMIS. Do you think this is sustainable (being here long enough so that the community and yourself benefit from your time)?
My original plan with Yuval was that I would come here for 2 weeks. I also have an outside project, so I needed to see if we could find the balance to both. I have agreed to stay for 3 more weeks, which [I think] is the right amount of time considering everything else that is going on in my life right now.
It’s complicated to have people coming and leaving all the time; in terms of the fact that students need to get used to new faces, each person has to learn the system from the beginning, the number of projects you can implement and execute properly are probably fewer. I must say that volunteers are very important to the school because it is so understaffed. However, I do think that volunteers should be an addition, not a replacement [for staff].
How do you feel about the EMIS students and community?
The kids are really great… super talented and hard-working! However, I think the school, the administration and the students ultimately have to decide what they want the personality of the school to be. I think there’s a way to find a balance between good grades and a multicultural environment that promotes these ideals… it exists in UWC.
Please give some advice to an EMIS student
Stay true to who you are, and always be in touch with the idealist side of you; it’s very easy to get lost in the system.
Please give some advice to future volunteer
Listen to what needs to be done. Listen to what needs to be changed. It’s very easy to want to come and to implement your own project, but it’s more important to see what needs to be done first, and then adjust your ideas to the environment.
How about for an EMIS student leaving in two months???
You’ve been through a crazy two-year experience. Often times you can’t even realize what you’ve been through until after. Spend time with your friends and the people you love. Also, don’t be scared to create bonds with new people. And of course, study. But it’s really important to enjoy your last two months here. After graduation, take a vacation, rest, go on an adventure, volunteer, do something different: give yourself the opportunity to rest your mind and process everything you’ve been through. If you’re going to college, enjoy your summer. If you’re taking a gap year, make a plan.
If you were to change one thing about EMIS, what would it be, why and how?
I have 2 things. The first has to do with the CAS program: I think it needs to have a greater emphasis on the school’s values and mission. The other would be residential. I feel like there is a lack of sense of community. Part of the reason is that it is understaffed, but I think the main reason why is that students would rather study than go to a community meeting or an optional group activity. I think that when you live with people for two years, you really need to realize how much they are your family and how much you depend on each other.
Can you ask yourself an open question, and then answer it?
Q: Do I believe that EMIS has potential to be the incredible school it was envisioned to be?
A: Yes. EMIS is still super young. Considering it is only 2 years old, it is at an incredible standing. The fact that you have 20% Palestinians and 20% Israelis allows for EMIS to ‘walk the talk’. The school really has the potential to become something incredible.
Interviewee: Galya Globerman
Interviewer: Anna Kraeftner, Emily Perotti, Hannah Cook
Transcription: Hannah Cook
Editor: Emily Perotti