Every so often a person gets lucky. And that was how I felt when I volunteered to be bumped from a flight and received a very generous airline. I decided to use that credit to tour programs I would not have otherwise been able to visit. I chose to go to Israel. In a week long visit I had the privilege of visiting and getting to know 4 very distinct programs. The Alexander Muss High School is a semester abroad program located in Herzliya. Located on a beautiful campus, teens from all over the world take classes in English. I was thrilled to be able to sit in on a history class. All the kids were engaged and thoughtful in the questions that they asked.
Aardvark is a gap year program with locations in both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Living in fully furnished apartments, students live like locals and explore opportunities with internships and volunteerism. College credit can be earned through the American Jewish University. There are so many add ons I am not sure how a person chooses only one.
Switching gears I was welcomed to Retorno, a 12 step model rehab program. There are single gender programs and an english group as well as hebrew speaking treatment. I was welcomed with a lovely horseback ride, up the ridge, overlooking a peaceful valley of biblical importance. The setting is serene and beautiful and just where you would want to be when doing emotionally difficult work. In addition to horses, dbt, sports therapy, yoga, and a holistic approach is used. Unique to Retorno is the use of DHEA to support long term recovery.
My final visit was to Free Spirit, an 8 - 10 week program located on a kibbutz at the base of the Ha Carmel forest. Free Spirit is an experiential program, empowering young people, through routines of daily life as well as multiple expeditions. Student's projects were seen throughout the kibbutz. I had a chance to meet with students and they were both insightful and they were thriving.
I highly recommend that if anyone is ever bumped from a flight you take advantage of the opportunity, break out of your own comfort zone, and go and explore the world!