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P2G Israel trip makes strong impression on Gray Academy participants

Two weeks in Israel in late February and early March, compliments of the P2G (Partnership Together) program, has left a strong impression on the nine Gray Academy Grade 10 and 11 students who participated in the experience.

”P2G gave us the opportunity to develop a strong connection with Jews our age living similar lifestyles halfway across the world,” says Cari Slayen. This connection made the trip a unique and memorable experience and impacted my personal connection to Israel”
”P2G was such an amazing experience, and the friendships I made will last forever,” adds Bina Rubin. “Before we left Kiryat Shmonah, I called my parents and told them to book my flights because I want to go back in the summer.”
Shaked Karabelnicoff agrees that P2G was a very unique experience. “You are fully immersed and feel completely part of an Israeli family,” she says. “You eat Israeli food, listen to Israeli music and go to an Israeli school. Essentially, for two weeks, you live like an Israeli.”
 Gray Academy teacher Avi Posen, a P2G alumnus himself, who now coordinates P2G in the school and led the trip this time, observes that the most powerful aspect of P2G is that the experience provides the students with a personal connection to Israel. “Since the inception of the program, nearly every participant in P2G has returned to Israel after graduation” he points out. “Many have gone to university in Israel, have made aliyah and volunteered or served in the IDF.”
“And most of the others become involved in our Winnipeg Jewish community.”
He adds that many other communities look to the Gray Academy program as a model of what they can do.
Last fall, P2G celebrated its 18th anniversary. Originally called P2K (Partnership 2000), the program’s concept was to link Jewish schools and students in major Canadian cities (other than Toronto and Montreal) with schools and students in different parts of Israel. Thus, the Gray Academy is paired with Danciger High school in Kiryat Shemona in northern Israel. Once a year, a group of Gray Academy students visit Danciger and Kiryat Shemona and, once a year. Danciger students come here.
As well, Gray Academy’s elementary school is twinned with Nachshonei Hachula elementary school in Yesod Hamala in the Hula Valley, also in Northern Israel, while Brock Corydon School ( home to the Hebrew bilingual program) is partnered with Ramat Korazim elementary school, which is just north of Lake Kinneret.
At the same time that the Gray Academy group was in Kiryat Shemona, Gray Academy teacher Silvina Mohadeb was visiting Nachshonei Hachula as part of a teacher exchange program ,leading programs and workshops connecting the two schools and communities.
Posen notes that the group of Gray Academy students who went on this trip (including Federico Biderman, Josh Muyal, Jacqui Cohen, Brooke Lieberman, Michelle Marchtein and Liat Stitz, in addition to Shaked Karabelnicoff, Cari Slayen, and Bina Rubin) was one of the largest delegations to date from the school.
Among the highlights of the visit,, Posen notes, were a visit to a seniors’ home in Kiryat Shemona (where the students presented the home with a mixer, which they had bought with funds they raised before the trip); a stop at an army base, where the visitors presented PVRs to the soldiers so that they can watch TV during their down time; experiencing a music festival in Jerusalem’s Old City; touring northern Israel; and seeing how Purim is celebrated in Israel.
“The kids were amazed to see a citywide Purim parade,” he says.
On their last night in Kiryat Shemona, Posen says, the Danciger school community hosted a farewell party attended by the host families and large student council. Each of the Gray Academy students gave a speech in Hebrew.
“It was an emotional evening,” Posen says.
On their last night in Jerusalem, the Gray Academy students had a reunion with recent Gray Academy P2G alumni of the past two years currently living in Israel. “We sent out an email inviting them to meet us on Ben Yehuda Street in Jerusalem,” Posen says. “They all came even though only one of them lives in Jerusalem. They explained the impact that P2G had on them and what they’re doing in Israel now.”

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