School to participate in Israeli exchange program

By Michelle Yousefzadeh

Three teachers will travel to Israel during winter break next year to visit Harvard-Westlake’s new sister school, Ironi Dallet, a public high school in north Tel Aviv.

A group of Harvard-Westlake eighth graders will host 14 Israeli students from Ironi Dallet in the fall of 2010.

Harvard-Westlake will be the second of two secular schools out of the 19 schools in Los Angeles who have the Israeli exchange program. The other secular school with the program is Beverly Hills High School.

Rabbi Emily Feigenson anticipates that the exchange program will give the participants as well as the whole student body, “a chance to broaden their understanding of the world beyond our immediate borders, and to gain perspective on our own culture, customs and school.”

The Tel Aviv/Los Angeles Twin School Exchange is a step towards more global education at Harvard-Westlake. Feigenson hopes that a similar exchange program will be set up with a school in China to further expand the Middle School’s global education activity.

Ironi Dallet already has an extensive global education program and an exchange program with schools in Mexico, Singapore and Germany.

The faculty selected will be a multi-ethnic and multi-religion delegation from different departments who will travel to meet with faculty and students from Ironi Dallet, Feigenson said.

Feigenson has been working on the project since September and was able to get the approval of middle school deans and then worked closely with Head of School Jeanne Huybrechts to receive funding from the Jewish Federation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to social service and education both locally and around the world.

The class of 2016 will need to apply to host an Israeli student and to be a part of the delegation in 2011. The application will require recommendations from a dean and a teacher attesting to the student’s level of maturity and social behavior said Feigenson.

“Both hosts and delegates will be representing our school — indeed, our country — and so they need to demonstrate an appropriate understanding of what it means to be a host,” Feigenson said.

Families can also volunteer to be “support hosts” to help the host family with carpooling and hosting an Israeli teen one or two week nights.

When the exchange students arrive, they will explore their program’s theme of personal identity which will include material from the Harvard Westlake curriculum.

The Israeli students will also visit museums and participate in a thematic program designed for them. For example, the Israeli students might read “Cyrano de Bergerac” in Hebrew and then participate in a class discussion or project about it or some Israeli teens can prepare a skit from the text and present it at class meeting.

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