Days 148 & 149: Graduation

Well, it happened. We graduated from Destination Israel, and this is how it went. 

Day 148: 2/2/2015

Today, I had a very interesting experience. I, along with 20 other people from the program, attended an activity called “Dialogue in the Dark,” where we walked through a museum in pitch blackness. It was similar to when I ate at the Blackout restaurant with my parents. I’ll go into a little more detail.

We all took a bus ride together to Holon, a city 30 minutes south of Tel Aviv, and we arrived at a center (whose name was never actually said). But I’m sure if you’re in Israel and you search “Dialogue in the Dark, Holon,” you’ll find it. We were split into 2 groups and lead in single file to a pitch black room. Our guide’s name was Saadi, and he was quite the delight. He was born blind (but he is able to differentiate dark from light) and is deaf in one ear. He lead us through the entire exhibit, giving us audio clues as to where to go next.

There were multiple rooms on the tour, and basically you just had to use your imagination to put together where you were. First we were in a forest, and heard the sounds of birds and could feel branches around us. We were also put on a boat, and experienced what it would be like to be a blind person riding on a speedboat. It was interesting and a little bit scary. Natalie felt a bit seasick, since she wasn’t able to focus on a horizon or any other stable point. We were also taken to the Shuk HaCarmel, and were able to smell and feel the fruits and vegetables that we’d normally find in the stands. My favorite room of all was the music room. We sat down and listened to a variety of music types. I honestly felt like I could see the music in the dark. It was such a cool experience.

After we went through the rooms, we were lead to the cafeteria, where we could buy snacks before sitting down for our talk. I brought a 50 shekel bill with me, but it turned out they only accepted 20 shekel bills or coins, since it’s completely dark and they wouldn’t be able to tell the difference in the bills. They hadn’t told us that at the beginning, sadly. We all sat down and had a chance to ask Saadi questions about himself and his experience of being blind his whole life. It was very interesting and meaningful to see a man who enjoyed life so much yet had never truly seen the world. I felt very fortunate to have spent my time on this tour with him as our guide.

After over an hour inside the museum, we were finally guided back into the light. It burned. For the first time, we saw what Saadi looked like, and he was a sweet old man wearing a kippah. We thanked him and headed towards the bus stop.

The whole experience was very rewarding and I’m so glad I did it. Sure, I was accidentally felt up by about everyone who was in my group, but it was so interesting to see what it would be like to live life as a blind person. I really admire how they are able to get through their daily routines and manage simple tasks.

After the tour, Daniel, Amy, Natalie, and I headed to dinner at this place called “Miznon.” I had never been there before, and I probably never will again. The food was fine (I had lamb in a pita), but the woman who worked there was super rude. My food was taking longer than everyone else’s, so I went to ask how much longer it would be. Her response: “It’ll be ready when it’s ready.” I then said I only wanted to know since my friends had already gotten their food and were almost done. “It’s being made. I’ll call you when it’s ready. They can wait.” When they finally called my name, the woman yelled, “Adina, I hope you enjoy every last bite of your food,” in a sarcastic tone. I gave her a thumbs up and an eye roll. Ugh, so Israeli.

To make up for the experience, we headed and got dessert. We all talked about our internship experiences and if we’d recommend working at our workplaces to others. A huge part of me loving my internship so much was my boss, Adi, and since she’s leaving the company, I’m not sure if it would be AS enjoyable to others.

After dessert, I walked back home. On the way, I ran into Sharon and we talked about the activity today. As we were speaking, an Israeli woman approached us and asked if we had a cigarette (in Hebrew). We responded “no” (also in Hebrew) and her response was, “Merci.” I’m fairly certain we were not speaking French… We both laughed. After a few minutes more, we went our separate ways, and I continued packing when I got back home. A very full day!

Day 149: Tuesday, 2/3/2015

Well, today’s the day we graduate. I spent the afternoon packing and almost completely finished. Hurray.

So what was actual graduation, you ask? Well, first, we had a little wrap-up of the program, and one of our coordinators gave us each a picture with our names in Hebrew (she accidentally spelled mine wrong…oh well) and a quote she selected personally for us. Mine was: “You can never lose creativity. The more you use, the more you gain.” It was sweet.

Next up, another one of our coordinators read aloud a letter to us all from Danny, the guy from our program who left us a month early. It was very touching. Many people cried.

Lilah was up next, singing the song “It Feels Like Home,” which the seniors in her sorority sing when they graduate. She was crying throughout the song, which got everyone else a little choked up as well.

The next song, however, was a lot more fun and upbeat. Oliver wrote a song and mentioned each one of us one by one. By mention I mean he poked fun at all of us in a playful way. It was totally hilarious and what we needed after the sadness. My verse was: “Adina, you’re lovely, with me you’re never cold; And I’m glad, living at Motskin, that you survived the mold.” I’m glad too, Oliver. I’m glad too.

After the rousing song, which took over 10 minutes, it was time for some slideshows. Zach threw together a slideshow, after asking us all to send him pictures we’d like included. The slideshow was nice, although I didn’t see any of my photos included. Oh well. We also watched a video that Karen put together, included both still photos and videos she took throughout the program. It was really sweet, and Karen is a very talented photographer/videographer. Well done!

Lastly, it was time for superlatives. Zach and Sarah R. gave every one of us at least one superlative each. They were funny, witty, and completely on point. I had two: 1) Most likely to fall onto a bus (it was just that one time, I swear!), and 2) Most likely to send basic white girl snaps (as in Snapchats, and yes, I do send quite a few of them…don’t judge me). Mine were perfectly hilarious.

It was then time to say goodbye. We were each given a diploma and were sent on our way before the group gathering at a bar near my house. Amy, Daniel, Fede, and I went and got dinner at “Benedict” as we were all starving and it was just a block away from the bar. We had a nice time talking about the trip, and I said a final bye to Fede, as she wasn’t joining us at the bar later. Daniel wasn’t either, but I knew I’d see him later in the week, and if not, he lives in California too, so I’d road trip up to see him soon.

Me, Amy, and Rebecca
Me, Amy, and Rebecca

Amy and I headed to “Dola,” the bar where we were meeting everyone. I actually had a very nice time, despite not drinking a thing. I had really great conversations with everyone, and it began to hit me a bit that I would not be seeing a lot of these people for a long time, especially since many of them are staying in Israel. Not sure when I’ll be able to come back to Israel next.

I headed home after making a large round of goodbyes. I don’t know, I guess I’m still not sad because of my trip to Europe on Friday! It will probably hit me like a huge wave when I finally return to Los Angeles. But I know that I’ve made some amazing friends whom I’ll stay in touch with, no matter where we all are on the globe. Next up: moving out, and then Europe!

-Girl in Israel 🙂

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