Hi everyone, my name is Jordana and I am one of the trip’s teen leaders. I wanted to give an update on what we have been doing so far in this incredible country.
Yesterday, we arrived in our host village, Pozo Azul, where we were welcomed with a big bienvenida fiesta. Dozens of local families and residents welcomed us with song, dance, food, and even a pinata. We danced and played games with the children, our Spanish-speaking group members helped facilitate conversations and give speeches, and some of the children performed for us! It was incredibly heartwarming to be welcomed with such gracious arms.
This morning, we started our day with breakfast at our wonderful host family’s home, and afterwards we all set an intention for the day by choosing a Jewish value from Naomi’s “Period Table of a Mensch.” Mine was understanding, which I tried to live up to by being especially patient and welcoming of everyone’s ideas and differences while we were working as a group. Speaking of which…
Today marked our first day of doing service work. We split up into two teams, the first of which worked at repairing a crumbling sidewalk while the second helped to paint the fence of the local cemetery. After we completed our day’s work, Don Luis (the father of our host family and also our project manager for the week) took us to visit the farm where he works. We saw cows, a bat, almond trees, bulls, and had a fun ride in a pickup truck through the hills.
As I alluded to earlier, we are also working to live and share Jewish values and traditions as much as possible while here. Last night, after our bienvenida where we sang “Shabbat Shalom” to the locals, we had a Shabbat service in our salon communal. Today, we continued with Shabbat by having a brief service at breakfast, and a conversational and interactive service during lunch followed by a text study of this week’s Torah portion where we got to talk about leadership. This week’s portion follows the story of Korach, who after becoming jealous of Moses’ power as a leader for his people, started a rebellion which resulted in important revelations about the importance of maintaining a leadership system of balance, and how we all are leaders in some way. Personally, I took away from the conversation the important revelation that the most important role of a leader is to always open up your seat at the table to fit and accommodate as many people as possible. We all have the capacity to be amazing leaders, and leadership is not confined to being the loudest, most powerful person, but takes infinite forms.
Tomorrow, we are all excited to continue working on our projects and bonding with both the community and each other. For now, we all need lots of rest but will check in with you soon!