Reflections from our November mission trip to Israel

Because of your support we are able to offer the most innovative programs in our schools

Reflections from our November mission trip to Israel. By board member, Randye Kwait

I recently returned from the Youth Renewal Fund Mission to Israel and was truly blown away by the experience. It was fantastic getting to know my fellow board members and some of their spouses, along with Darca staff, Board Members, and many Israelis interested in hearing about our work. But by far, the highlights were seeing so many innovative programs and getting to know some of our principals, teachers and students. Below are some of the incredible programs we witnessed:

In a science class, at Bait V’Gan Darca High School in Bat Yam, students utilized a sophisticated Virtual Reality program to study organs of the human body in 3D. It’s exciting, it’s hands on, and it’s a fun, effective way to learn science.

In psychology class, at Geon HaYarden Darca school in the Valley of Springs, the students use virtual reality 3-D headsets to become desensitized to specific fears, such as claustrophobia or heights through repeated exposure to a related experience, i.e. on a roller coaster, or in an enclosed room.

At Kiryat Malachi Darca High School, students in a math class were tasked with figuring out how to open up a locked box by way of mathematical equations. Rather than sit and memorize formulas, students are walking around and collaborating to problem solve, proving to be an active and fun way to learn math.

In the town of Kiryat Malachi, students took part in a 2-day workshop in partnership with a Bedouin school. The framework of the workshop focused on negotiations; times during the day students had to negotiate, different tactics they used, etc. Both groups face the challenge of having to speak only in English but strengthening their English skills is just a tiny part of what they take away.

We spoke with a handful of students visiting the center and asked them what they want to do when they grow up. While most were shy at first, when we broke into smaller groups, the students were not shy about their ambitions. Some students want to be surgeons, one wants to work for NASA and one wants to be a lawyer. The students understood the importance of learning English is to help them achieve their goals; and they enjoy coming to the English Learning Center because they get to practice English in fun ways – with games, conversation, videos and they get to work with native English speaking teachers.

23 Darca students were awarded membership into this selective leadership program for the most promising young talents in our Darca’s schools. We had the opportunity to do a leadership and teamwork exercise with them around herding sheep. We got to see firsthand how these students worked together to build strategies to be successful. We asked many of them what they wanted to be when they grew up and my favorite response was from one girl who wants to be the Minister of Education of Israel! We have no doubt that she will get there.

We observed a classroom of 11th grade girls who were learning best practices for interviewing for admission into the army, higher education and even the workplace. We learned that many of our Darca students feel a lack of confidence due to prejudice, stereotyping and a limited social network. Therefore, this program is set up to help overcome this lack of confidence for them and prepare them for their future endeavors. We watched as they practiced interviewing and Anne Angowitz even got up and walked them through her best practices for being successful on an interview. The students were mesmerized and extremely appreciative of the skills they were being taught.

At Geon HaYarden Darca school in the Valley of Springs the group met with many of the autistic students in the school. They were privileged to hear one of them present himself and his group to us. This young man was incredibly confident, poised, articulate and funny – leaving everyone surprised and moved by his speech. These students support each other, and are respected and treated as though they are capable, and these factors seem to have an incredibly favorable impact on these kids. We all felt immensely proud of the work that we do.

To learn more about The Youth Renewal Fund in general or our mission to Israel, please reach out to