Day 9 – Jan 4, 2023

Arava & Dead Sea

Get ready for an essay…

…Jokes- it’s the last night hahaha- it’s gunna be short! ????

Early morning risers
Whilst Paige, Gaby and Chloe got their beauty rest, a crazy bunch of go getters read newspapers in the Dead Sea.

Buffet breakfast for the win!
Gaby enjoyed a giant plate of pickles, Paige enjoyed 3 plates of everything as usual, whilst Chloe gazed at the sea before heading down to eat…

Our first stop – The Peace Lookout
We drove through the Arava desert and stopped at the Peace Lookout, a JNF Australia project, surrounded by sand dunes as far as the eye can see. We learnt that fresh water is collected from 1.5km underground in the arad areas.

On the way to our next stop, we drove past Lot’s wife. “Who was that?” Paige asked Ann Hannah, “oh Abrahams nephew.” Paige’s knowledge of the bible from Simpsons episodes was really paying off here! Does she have a name? Turns out that she does – it’s Idit or Irit.

Second pit stop – Vidor  Centre at the Yair Agriculture Research and Development Centre

Amit guided us through this centre which was established with the support JNF Australia, Israeli government ministries and the Israel Government
Tourist Corporation. The centre offers an interactive experience which gives visitors the opportunity to learn about desertification, Arava flora and fauna, and the
development of communities and agriculture in the region.  We saw a short film where the coffee line was the hot spot, and we waited in agony for the caffeine hit!

We got to see an amazing sight of greenery, fresh vegetables and fruit (no picking that forbidden fruit Danny!) and tents covering ‘mysterious plants’.

At Moshav Hatzeva, we picked our free range of bell peppers and chomped on them while learning more about drip irrigation and the impact that this system, invented in Israel, has had on the rest of the world. The Ya’ir R&D Station at Hatzeva offers farmers novel growing technologies aimed at reducing the use of pesticides and herbicides, integrating natural enemies in crop management as well as new methods for cultivating crops in marginal soils. 100% of the pepper crop at Ein Yahav is grown using Integrated Pest Management. Almost all the crops are grown inside structures with nets to repel insects and reduce the use of pesticides, in contrast to growing crops in open fields as is the standard practice in other parts of the country.

We worked as a team to cook up a mean feast of salad and noodle stir fry! Yum yum yum yum! And one more yum!

Next stop – Shitim Elementary School
This amazing school is one of a kind! The very humble principal explained that the school provides students with three choices of educational streams to cater for the diverse needs of the community – a religious stream, a Steiner/Waldorf Stream, and a conventional school stream. The environmentally friendly school promotes a range of outdoor learning opportunities for students including cooking, gardening, wood work, farming (including chickens! Bok, bok!), as well as free sensory and imaginative play in the desert.

Our final educational facility for the day, AICAT – Arava International Center for Agriculture Training

This educational extraordinaire provides awesome programs for students aged 20-27 from developing countries across the world. Students are able to immerse themselves in agricultural studies through hands on learning (from 5am!). Students work for 10 months within this environment, earning a living, and can take both their ideas and money home to their families. It was an absolute pleasure to see such a supportive program where sharing of knowledge between countries helps to provide for a better future for all!

As Much As Needed – a lesson in taking only what is needed.
At this incredible location, we learnt about sustainable practices in recycling what could be seen as ‘junk’ as using these resources to create artworks, and rich hands -on learning experiences for students of all ages. The main message of this workshop was for humans to be more mindful of their waste and to use only what is needed as a community.

Last but not least – Sapir Park
In this miracle green space were happy families having picnics, ducks swimming in a glistening pond, and a group of loud Australians taking photos with flags. it was a beautiful sight and definitely worth the stop instead of heading straight back to the hotel!

We then journeyed back to the hotel, ate, shopped, swam, slept, packed, and said our thank you’s and goodbyes to Yigal. What a day!

Paige Kelly (Kensington Public), Gabrielle Canizares (Kensington  Public), Chloe Zang ( Mount Scopus), Maila Guadana (Montefiore)