Thursday, July 12, 2012
Two Australian high school students, whose song came 2nd in the international competition to produce a music video in honor of KKL-JNF's 110th anniversary, visit Israel.
Two high school students from Australia, whose song came in second in the international competition to produce a music video in honor of KKL-JNF's 110th anniversary
, came to Israel for a week to get to know Israel better and to find out more about KKL-JNF's work. Many of the projects they visited all over Israel have been executed thanks to contributions from friends of KKL-JNF in Australia, and many of them focus on caring for the environment.
Jake Fehily and Max Korman in front of JNF Australia recognition sign at the Shaar HaNegev School. Photo: Yoav Devir
Out of sixty video clips submitted, the one produced by Jake Fehily and Max Korman, 10th grade students from the Bialik High School in Melbourne, was remarkable in its talent, creativity and humor. The two boys surprised everyone by composing and performing a rap song in honor of KKL-JNF.
“When we entered the contest, we didn’t think we would win, but here we are in Israel,” said Jake. “We were in shock when we heard that we came in second and won a cash prize and a trip to Israel.” (The school that came first was the Maagalim School in the Sdot Negev Regional Council).
WATCH: Jake and Max's Video Clip (2nd Prize):
The teacher who accompanied the Australian high school students to Israel was Michael Schnall, one of the people who came up with the idea of having a music video clip contest. He had suggested it about two years ago in a discussion that took place among educators from different countries, when they addressed the question of how to mark KKL-JNF's 110th year in a way that could connect youth all over the world. The idea elicited enthusiasm, and the contest was announced a little over a year ago.
“Jake and Max are always producing music videos, at school and on their own,” said Schnall,” so when I got back to Australia, I contacted them right away and said, ‘Here’s your next project.’ They were not thinking about the prize at all while they were working on the clip. They were just having a good time making it.”
During their week in Israel, they saw the Biofilter Facility in Kfar Saba
, where rainwater is collected and purified by biological means and then returned to the groundwater. In the Green Wetlands in Hod Hasharon
they learned about an environmentally friendly technology for treating wastewater in shallow pools with aquatic plants and gravel. The clean water is then conducted to the Yarkon, in order to rehabilitate the polluted river. Both of these projects were funded by friends of JNF Australia
The Shaar Hanegev School – Living with Missiles
At the Shaar Hanegev High School, which is near the city of Sderot, the Australian rappers met Israelis their age, Hila Barad, Noy Laniado and Amir Naim, all three of them from Kibbutz Erez, which is near the Gaza border.
Construction of the new, sheltered school was completed very recently. All the buildings and windows are resistant to missiles, and there are concrete shelters in the green schoolyard, which was landscaped with the support of friends of KKL-JNF from Australia.
Making new friends: L-R: Amir Naim, Max Korman, Noy Nadiado, Jake Fehily and Hila Barad. Photo: Yoav Devir
The schoolyard includes gardens, an archeological park and an amphitheater with a capacity for 1,000 people, and there are plans for a recycling center and an ecological park for environmental research, green energy, organic fertilizer and agricultural studies. Amir is eagerly anticipating the opening of the agricultural study track and plans to be part of it next year.
The Israeli students, who have just finished 10th grade and are now on their summer vacation, sympathized with their Australian guests, who are still in the middle of their school year. Inbar Meir, a science teacher at Shaar Hanegev, expressed her excitement about getting to teach in the new school with its beautiful green surroundings. “It is heartwarming to know that people who live on the other side of the world care about us and want to take part and be involved in what happens here.”
WATCH: Shaar HaNegev High School Project Video:
The students told their guests about living with the rocket fire from Gaza. “For us it’s normal life, because we’ve gotten used to the situation. I feel no different than any other boy in the world,” said Amir. Jake tried to imagine living such an impossible way of life and said that in Australia, where he lives, there is an alert about once a year, when there is a suspected gas leak. Amir’s dream is to be a Company Commander in the IDF and come back to serve in the region around Gaza. “We live in the shadow of war, and I understand that soldiers sacrifice themselves so that we can live here. When it’s my turn, I also want to contribute.”
Noy said that her little sister, who is in 6th grade, is afraid to go out of the house and only sleeps in the APS, the apartment protected space. “My mother is pretty hysterical and phones me all the time to hear that everything is okay. That’s how it is with worried mothers,” said Noy, with a smile.
When the Australians told them about how they got to Israel and about the music video clip contest, the topic of conversation changed to music. In addition to all of them liking music, it turned out that three of them were active musicians. Jake plays drums, piano and sings. Max plays piano, bass guitar and sing, and Hila is hoping to be a singer. They are not sure if they can get a band together, since Jake and Max focus on rap, while Hila prefers pop music and jazz. On the other hand, maybe it is a combination that could work.
L-R: Inbar Meir, Noy Laniado, Hila Barad, Max Korman, Michael Schnall, & Jake Fehily in front of bomb shelter at Shaar HaNegev School. Photo: Yoav Devir
During the tour of the school, Amir demonstrated the durability of the security windows by hitting one very hard. Jake said that at his school you aren’t even allowed to play ball anywhere near the windows. Apparently, if you try hard enough, you can find advantages to the security situation in Israel.
At the end of the visit at the Israeli high school, the new friends exchanged their Facebook details and promised to keep in touch. Hila suggested to Michael that he teach English at their school, since her English teacher just quit. The Israelis suggested a reciprocal trip from Israel to Australia and immediately volunteered to be in the delegation.
Planting Trees to Protect Lives and Reclaiming Water
The next stop on the itinerary of the Australians was a tour of the Security Trees in Kfar Aza. It turns out that trees also have a defense function in addition to all their other benefits. They conceal the Israeli communities from the sights of Palestinian snipers in Gaza
L-R: Max Korman, Michael Schnall and Jake Fehily in front of security plantings near the Gaza border. Photo: Yoav Devir
In recent months, KKL-JNF has planted thousands of trees alongside ten residential areas near the Gaza border. They are mainly eucalyptus trees, which, coincidentally, originated in Australia. This is because they grow very quickly, reach a great height and can thrive in the harsh climate conditions of the Negev.
At the Asaf Siboni Observation Point, named after an IDF soldier who perished in a helicopter accident, the boys looked out at the Gaza Strip and saw how close it is to Sderot. From that lookout, they could also see the Kibbutz Nir Am reservoir, and they heard about KKL-JNF's important work of building reservoirs, where wastewater is treated and then recycled for agricultural irrigation. There are many reservoirs all over Israel, especially in the Negev, which were constructed with the support of friends of KKL-JNF from Australia, and contribute to the agricultural development of the Negev and its water economy.
At the Nitzana Youth Village, they heard about the unique educational community, which KKL-JNF helped establish, where youth and children with physical disabilities or who are recovering from life-threatening illnesses come to connect to the quiet of the desert and learn about Zionism, excellence, health and sustainability. The students hail from Israel and other countries. They met Adi, who told them about the year of National Service she is doing there. She deferred her army service in the IDF and is doing volunteer work as a counselor in Nitzana along with a group of 20 other young Israelis.
Group tours Nitzana Youth Village with National Service Volunteer Adi. Photo: Yoav Devir
The Australian boys will be traveling in the Nitzana area and in the Arava over the next few days. They will visit Ein Gedi and the Dead Sea, do some bird watching at the Hula Lake in northern Israel, hike the Banias gorge, kayak in the Hatzbani river, tour the Carmel, ride bicycles in the Ramat Menashe Park and conclude their trip in Jerusalem.
“I’ve been to Israel many times, but this time it was different,” said Max. “The KKL-JNF tour is an awesome way to get to know new sides of Israel. I knew a little about what KKL-JNF does, but we got to really find out about projects being done by the organization, and especially about how involved JNF Australia is. When we get home, we can tell everyone about the important work being done by KKL-JNF.”