The fog that greeted us this morning over the Hula Valley was calming before a busy day of travel and inspiration…writes Danielle Blumberg, the Head of Junior School at Masada College, Sydney.

With a satisfied belly we packed the bus and said goodbye to the Galilion Hotel.

Our first stop was with Misgav Local Council. This area is special due to the multicultural makeup of the community (65% Jewish and 35% Arab; Muslim, Bedouin, Druze) which is harmonious and united. We met an inspirational female social worker Yousra from the Bedouin community who is a pioneer for female education in her community. She reminded us that it is never too late to follow your dreams as she began her degree at 37.

JNF Australia (with other overseas countries) sponsored this area to help build roads, bring higher education and to ensure an ecological contribution to the community whom is very appreciative of the financial support. A park was created and its centerpiece is a Blue Box of white stone atop a basalt map of Australia. Two special memorial pillars record the names of Australia’s annual Blue Box Collectors.

We visited a sustainable house and garden that is used by the community for various projects including a bird song group that meets daily at 5.30am. The creative upcycling of items has inspired many of us to reuse more to create a variety of furniture.

After these viewings we were back on the bus to visit the KKL-JNF house of excellence in Nazareth.

The KKL-JNF House of Excellence is a place that every student would want to work in – most adults would love it too! The premise behind this centre is for students who want to improve in the areas of maths, science, english and technology or to work on Start Up Nation projects. Free classes are provided in a casual environment with the goal of increasing student’s academic gains. Whilst this is one centre there will be ten across the country.

Whilst at the House of Excellence the competitive side of the group was awakened with Sarah from Melbourne and Efrat running a quiz for the groups. We are all better aware of the Israeli inventions and enjoyed creating pictures with our cherry tomatoes.

Falafel lunch was finished with the tasting of Sachlab and some delicious baclava. Then we were back on the buses to head to Haifa.

The Technion (Israel Institute of Technology) is a world leading institute for technical degrees. The vision for the institute was created in the early 1900’s and is now ranked the best university for digital skills. We heard about different aspects offered at the Technion from Robotics to Chemistry, Ecological Gardens and Science. It was interesting to see the gains that the students are making from studying at this university despite only starting degrees in their mid to late 20’s (due to military service).

After so much information people were feeling a bit peckish so we all got back on the bus to drive to Daliyat El Carmel for dinner in a restaurant with a Druze band. The food was plentiful and the music was frenetic. The enthusiastic drummer moved his hands to create rhythms that were hypnotic.

After dinner we got back on the bus and drove to Jerusalem!

We are all looking forward to exploring Machane Yehuda Market at night and can’t wait to walk the streets of Jerusalem.

It is amazing to see what KKL-JNF have done over the years to build this country for all of her inhabitants, irrelevant of religion or political persuasion. It has certainly opened my eyes to seeing this wonderful organization as more than simply planting trees.

Thank you for an inspiring experience!