Mechina Telem Jaffa - My Year of Growth in Israeli Mechina

By Leigh Gabriely

At the Mechina, I was as free as I’ll probably ever be. Free to explore ideas that previously seemed time-wasting, free to study what I deemed important rather than giving in to society’s external pressures, free to embrace failure and perceive it is a progressive learning experience rather than a set-back. I was free to openly express myself, my ideas, opinions, emotions, and creations.

I traveled the country by bus and by foot, sang and danced, built programs and built stages, and cooked meals for 50 people. I studied some subjects and I taught others, I volunteered with
at -risk, underprivileged kids, learned about some of Israel’s most vital issues, and accepted the fact that I cannot solve them single-handedly in one year. Most importantly, I met my best friends.

Throughout this year I’ve never felt so successful and so incompetent; so appreciated and so underestimated; so important and so small; so influential and so powerless; so strong and so weak; so open yet so vulnerable; so sure and so unsure (of myself, of others, of the world); so happy and so disappointed; so content and so frustrated; so independent and so dependent; so rooted and so rootless.

This careful balancing act is intense and exhausting and not meant for everyone. However, I found it exciting and enriching. These nuanced dynamics added dimension and depth to my experience, and lead to a year full of color and stimulation. I wouldn’t have changed it for the world, and I feel prepared to take on anything.