By: Jeffrey Gold
The skills and life lessons that Nativ taught me throughout the nine month program was more than I could’ve imagined. As I left Nativ and started my new journey to college, there was so much anxiety, thought, and hope running through my body. Will I be as happy as happy at college as I was on Nativ? Will I make similar relationships to the ones that I lived abroad with for a whole year? However, I was thinking about it all the wrong way. I was thinking that Nativ is over, the memories will just be memories, and the people were just a certain phase in my life. This was totally the wrong mindset and stepping back, it is incredible to see how much I grew over the two semesters, and how I have developed into the college student, person, and leader that I am today.
One of the many things Nativ really teaches you is how to be an independent person and be able to make important decisions for yourself. Throughout my life, I never had to think about items such as buying my own groceries or figuring out my way around a new area of living. I learned these skills and so many more during the second semester in Tiberias, living in my own apartment. I am currently a sophomore in college who is trying to live on a budget and in an apartment where I can make my own meals. My cooking and time management traits shine as I make not the classic just mac and cheese meals, but know how to create new flavors from having to do this for three months in my Tiberias apartment with my little stove top and toaster oven. However, this is not the only way I have learned to be independent from Nativ. We were put in a position with a lot of freedom Take a bus to Tel Aviv on a random Wednesday, volunteer at different areas around our base, there were limitless opportunities. This encouraged me to always look for more places to get involved, to stay busy and active in your community. Based on this, I am a member of my Chabad board, I am in a social and business fraternity, I am a representative for two organizations on my campus, and I am a member of student government. None of this drive to be involved could have stemmed if it was not for Nativ, and all the encouragement of your friends to be the best person you can.
Another thing that Nativ taught me was how to find where I am as a Jewish person. It made me think about my life and the values I hold, and ultimately encouraged me to become shomer shabbat for the entire year and for a great deal of college, and has still held true to today. I learned about and found my love for Judaism through our Tuesday night programs, from my Hebrew U classes, and by trying out a new synagogue each week, finding my favorite, and going there so much that I start to recognize and know members of the congregation. Where I am now as a Jewish person is totally different from what I would be if I did not have the chance to go on Nativ and learn what Judaism really means to me.
On top of everything else, I am so appreciative of the life I get to live each day. I had the privilege of traveling to India as the first Nativ track to participate in this program, and that was single handedly the highlight of my whole Nativ experience. I learned how to be content with what I have, how to teach others, and how to change my entire mindset to something more gratuitous and happy about even the smallest things. After this trip, my life and the way I live it will always have this experience at the back of it, as a constant reminder of how lucky I am to be who I am.
What I love more than anything is telling all of these stories to my friends in college, and seeing their jaws drop at what I got to experience and be a part of. When I tell these stories I always keep my favorite quotation in the back of my mind, “A candle loses no fire in lighting a new flame.” I interpret this as passing along all stories, experiences, thoughts, and ideas to others around you because it will enable them to grow and learn about the ideas they have never heard of and ultimately, build them up as a person and thinker, just like their flame.