** Written by Riana Goren, participant on Career Israel Summer Internship Program. Riana is a senior at Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania, completing her BA in Sociology and Education, and interning in Tel Aviv/Rishon Ltzion with children with Developmental Disabilities**
I decided to come on Career Israel’s summer internship program because I had an incredible experience last summer studying at Tel Aviv University. It was a great opportunity to get to know my family who lives here inIsrael, and I met a lot of Israelis and locals that I kept in touch with all year. I spent this past year at school thinking about my time here and planning how I could come back and do something productive.
This summer I am interning at Gan Aviv, a kindergarten that is part of the Association for Children at Risk, in Rishon Ltziyon. My class at Gan Aviv is made up of a group of 10 children, mostly somewhere on the autism spectrum, and approximately 10 adults- “ganenets”, classroom teachers, and therapists who care for the children wonderfully. I arrive every morning and work through the early afternoon, play with the children, help them interact with each other, and observe and participate in group therapy sessions organized by the therapists. I also work one on one with children, reading with them, doing exercises with them that help improve their strength and coordination, and help them explore on their own so they can learn. A highlight is always when I can make a child laugh because it shows I have been able to connect with them.
As great as my internship is, the best part of my summer has been the people I have met. I arrived here open to meeting and getting to know everyone, and it has been amazing to see how my relationships with family that I didn’t know well until last summer have become so much stronger, and friends I met only recently have become like family. I have really gotten to know Tel Aviv and it’s culture. The combination of my internship, building relationships and living in Tel Aviv has been really valuable.