Why did you decide to volunteer abroad with OTZMA in Israel?
Adam: I had graduated university, and found my chosen field to be difficult to get into due to a struggling economy. After working for a year in Retail, I decided that I needed to spend time doing something for me and my culture, and I applied to the OTZMA program. 63 people were chosen across North America, and I was thrilled to have been one of them.
What made this experience unique and special?
Adam: This program was a wonderful mix of volunteering, learning, traveling and getting to know the people of Israel. It gave me an amazing connection to the land, its history, it's modern day face and its people. I truly feel this was the best year of my single life, and wish I could go back and do it again...
Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.
Adam: My volunteer days varied immensely depending on where I lived. One of the strengths of the OTZMA program is that it allows you to explore many different facets of Israeli life, and locations throughout the country. I worked first in an eyeglass lens factory on Kibbutz Mayan Zvi. While I woke up at unprecedented hours - 5:30 AM - I was done by 1:30 each day and had lots of free time. I worked on an assembly line which was character building, and it allowed me to see an industry I would not have known otherwise.
Then I worked in an Immigration Absorption Center in Mevasseret Zion. 3 days a week I would tutor English in a local high school, which was fun as I got to know a cross section of Israeli youth. The other 3 days a week I was a maintenance person and did all kinds of tasks - cleaning out bomb shelters, moving furniture around, and helping new residents settle in, etc. Then I lived in Jerusalem, and helped paint the public spaces of an apartment building in a challenged neighbourhood, and I also participated in an archaeological dig in the Kotel tunnels. Next was a week of basic training in the Army. Finally, I tutored English in an elementary school in Eilat, and participated in a variety of after school programs. One day after work I walked to Egypt - how many people can say they've done that?
How has this experience impacted your future? (Personally, professionally, etc)
Adam: Being on Otzma broadened my perspective on the world, and filled me with a sense of self confidence I had never experienced before. It also reinforced my zest for travel, and has helped me in my quest to work as a Project Manager managing teams around the world.