Ten students in the Global Studies and World Languages Academy at Tallwood High School are on a whirlwind adventure. They have been selected as Youth Ambassadors in an exchange program organized by the American Israel Friendship League (AIFL). The month-long exchange began Oct. 24 when 10 students from Israel arrived to live with host families in Virginia Beach. They attended school at Tallwood, visited local sites of interest and learned about life in our community. After a week in Virginia Beach, the Youth Ambassadors from Israel and Tallwood met other Youth Ambassadors from across the country in Washington, D.C. and traveled to New York City and then back to Israel, to stay with host families and experience their culture and customs.Two Tallwood Youth Ambassadors, Katelyn Gallagher and Zoe Hollander, have been documenting their time on this trip. This is the first in a series of posts from them. Follow along and read about their journey of a lifetime.
The start to the Youth Ambassador Student Exchange with the American-Israeli Friendship League has taken off! Ten students from the Global Studies and World Languages Academy at Tallwood High School hosted students from Modi’in, Israel for a week (Oct. 24-31) and then both delegations drove to Washington D.C. The delegation from Tallwood High School will travel with Israeli and American delegations from all around the country in Washington D.C., New York City, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. In the final week of the trip for the American students, they will stay with the family of the student they hosted back in Virginia Beach three weeks prior.
On the first day of our trip, all the youth ambassadors were so excited to head to the capital. Many kisses from parents and pictures were taken making it an extremely exciting but emotional goodbye. Finally, the youth ambassadors took off to D.C. When we arrived at the capital, the Israelis were astonished at the admirable architecture. They were truly in awe. Once the other delegations from around the country arrived at the hotel we had a lovely dinner and played many ice breaker games that included “Getting to Know You” bingo and many more fun activities. Just from those entertaining ice breaker games, both the Israeli and Americans realized how very similar and yet so different our cultures truly were.
The second day of our trip we headed straight to the Capital building in Washington D.C. The historical vibes the building gave off left both delegations speechless. Inside the capital we saw many historical aspects of our country’s history, for example, we had the wonderful opportunity to step into the first Supreme Court room in the United States of America. The youth ambassadors felt honored to be able to have such a fulfilling experience. After a wonderful and exciting day of touring the Capital Building, the youth ambassadors came back to the hotel for a traditional Shabbat meal to celebrate the Sabbath. Finally, the youth ambassadors attended a formal dance where Israeli and American music were played to celebrate both cultures. The youth ambassadors had an extremely good time dancing and getting to know new people and make international friends.
On the third, and final, day of our trip in Washington D.C., the youth ambassadors woke up early and took the metro into Arlington National Cemetery where we witnessed the changing of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Also, the ambassadors visited the grave site of the late president John F. Kennedy and his family. The experiences in the cemetery were humbling to both the Israelis and the Americans. After Arlington, the ambassadors took the metro to the mall where we divided into several smaller groups and toured the Smithsonian museums of our choice. My group chose to tour the National Archives where we saw (and even could read from) extremely important documents such as the Constitution, The Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights and Magna Carta. We had a blast at the Archives. When our afternoon of touring the Smithsonian museums came to an end, we headed out on a guided bus tour of many of the recognized monuments in Washington D.C. We visited the Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, Vietnam War Memorial, Korean War Memorial, Washington Monument and many more.
Our time in Washington D.C. has come to an end….but tomorrow we travel to New York City!