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Archive for : service learning

A Refugee-Focused Alternative Break With Princeton’s Center for Jewish Life

This guest post is being shared as part of #SupportforRefugees, Repair the World’s Passover campaign focusing on the global refugee crisis. It was written by Ya’arah Pinhas and Will Simon, and covers a jam-packed alternative spring break program focused on refugee resettlement, and run by Princeton’s Center for Jewish Life.

Over the recent Spring Break, Princeton’s Center for Jewish Life’s Social Justice Committee led a service learning trip to NYC and NJ exploring refugee resettlement in the area. With an ever increasing number of 60 million internally displaced people, asylum seekers, and refugees worldwide alongside the media’s focus on the Syrian refugee crisis, the committee has focused its efforts on raising awareness on campus and encouraging students to take action on this topic. The trip’s goals were to learn about the process of resettlement of refugees in the US, specifically looking at the services provided to them once they arrive within US borders, and volunteering with organizations that assist refugees newly arrived to the US and advocate on their behalf.
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Meet Laura Kassen!

Meet Laura Kassen, our Education Campaign Fellow and AVODAH Corps Member! We asked Laura a few questions about her decision to join AVODAH, and her work with Repair: 

Why did you decide to serve with AVODAH this year?

In December 2011, during the fall semester of my senior year in college, I was forced to face “reality.” After constantly being asked various forms of the question “What are you doing next year?” I decided to bulk down and actually figure it out…or at least come up with something I could say in response. At one point I was so overwhelmed with the process that my go-to answer became making up various professions and telling something different to each person who asked. Many people may actually think that I am becoming an astronaut or a professional fortune-cookie writer—I apologize that neither one of these is true, but in my opinion I am doing something way more exciting.

I knew that I wanted to work in some capacity at a non-profit organization, particularly in the Jewish world. I also have always had a strong interest in education and education reform. While perusing, I stumbled upon all these job opportunities that sounded amazing. Then I noticed that they all had something in common—they were all AVODAH placement organizations.

I spent time doing research on AVODAH’s website, talking to Corps members and participating in informational conference calls. AVODAH seemed like it would be a great opportunity to do meaningful work after college. I was excited about the possibility of working at a highly effective non-profit, while living in a communal environment, and engaging in learning opportunities that would help me become an agent for social change. I thought AVODAH would be a great way for me to learn from my peers and help me gain an understanding of what I’d like to do in the future. So in January 2012 I applied to AVODAH, and in May I was thrilled to learn that my placement organization would be Repair the World!

What excited you about serving at Repair the World?

I was super excited (and still am!) about becoming a part of an organization whose mission is something I really value. I have always been proud of my Judaism and interested in service, so it was thrilling to find an organization that seeks to truly connect these two important facets of my life and make them a defining aspect of American Jewish life. I am excited to spread the word about Repair the World and help the organization flourish.

What are you looking forward to this year?

I am looking forward to learning more about structure, and what goes on “behind the scenes” at a non-profit organization. I feel like Repair the World is a great place to do this because it is growing rapidly in terms of outreach, resources and education. I am also looking forward to applying what I learn through AVODAH to my work at Repair the World, whether it be by hearing from my fellow Corps members or learning something during our educational programming.

What would you say to college seniors who might be thinking about doing a year of service post-graduation?

I say if you are able to commit to a year of service, I would definitely encourage you to go for it. A year of service has really put things into perspective for me. I have had the opportunity to learn so much about myself, about social justice, and a wide-spectrum of unique opinions and ideas. And if you cannot dedicate a whole year to doing service, try to become involved in other capacities. Volunteer with your friends on weekends, read up on social inequalities, and attend events with topics related to social justice. You may find something that really grabs your attention!

How do you see this year informing your future career plans?

I think both my experience at Repair the World and AVODAH will help me figure out what I would like to do in my professional career. I hope that I will be fortunate enough to find something that combines all of my interests, and even if I don’t I would like to find out other opportunities to stay involved. I am very excited to grow professionally, expand my interests, and do my part to help with Repair the World’s mission.

Laura Kassen is from Westport, Connecticut. She attended Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where she was an American Studies major and History minor.


The Social Action Network

Earlier this year, the JCC of Central New Jersey in Scotch Plains converted its teen lounge into an art studio for its camp. The teens just weren’t using it, and the space “has not really been missed,” according to Lindsay Napchen, JCC teen services director.

“I think the days when teens came to the lounge to ‘hang out’ for the night are gone,” she said. “Teens are much more driven toward service-based programming.” In fact, 40-50 teens gather monthly at the JCC as part of the Teen Action Service Corps for discussion and programs — and to perform 30-40 hours per year of community service.

Meanwhile, on July 15, over 40 people — many of them teens — showed up at the Jewish Relief Agency, based at the Rabbinical College of America in Morristown, and in 15 minutes had packed and loaded 50 boxes of food and were heading out to deliver them to the needy throughout Morris and Essex counties.

“It feels good to help,” said Aaron Nessel of Randolph, a student at Golda Och Academy in West Orange who’s been volunteering with JRA since the fall. “There are a lot of people in need out here. The fact that we get to do it hands-on and actually deliver food to them makes it feel more rewarding.”

And at the Super Sunday event held on the Aidekman campus in Whippany last December, more than 150 teens and college students from different organizations turned out to make calls to potential donors, yielding more gifts completed by teens in the fund-raiser’s history.

Jewish programs all across the area are adapting to the changing tastes of today’s teens. Chief among these are activities that fall under the rubric of Jewish service learning, in an earlier time, known simply as volunteering. Today, it has morphed into a model incorporating hands-on work, learning, and reflection. Participants study Jewish texts to understand the Jewish values at the heart of a particular mitzva. After performing it, they explore together the impact it has had on them and their communities.

While some teen-focused programs are replacing a combination of formal learning and pure “hanging out” with social action, others are holding on to what they have and adding service learning programs to their schedules. The trend is finding its way into obvious places like religious schools and JCCs, but even into summer camp programs; Young Judaea’s teen leadership camp, Tel Yehuda, is offering an alternative summer break program this year for the first time, modeled on the alternative winter break of volunteer service.

‘Strengthening identity’

“This is a very idealistic generation,” said Jon Rosenberg, CEO of Repair the World, a national organization dedicated to youth service based in Jewish values. According to the Montclair resident, there’s a significant effort on the part of teens nationally to be involved in service and social action. Although the figures vary from state to state, he said, from 2008 to 2010, on average 25 percent of teens were volunteering; in New Jersey, 26.7 percent. Although the studies focus on all teens, not just Jewish teens, Rosenberg said he believes Jewish teens’ rates of volunteering is reflected in the whole. The numbers, he said, suggest an urgency for Jewish educators. “If we are not creating opportunities for them to be do-gooders in the Jewish world, they will do it elsewhere. That would be a missed opportunity.”

Stacey David, education director at the Summit Jewish Community Center, a Conservative synagogue, said its teen program has evolved from a discussion-based group to a service learning model. “My number one goal is to keep kids involved beyond b’nei mitzva,” she said. The program includes mini-courses of three-four sessions each, during which students explore Jewish topics in tikun olam, including environment, poverty, genocide, domestic violence, Israel, human trafficking, and the elderly. That is followed by such hands-on activities as visiting residents of a local nursing center, establishing a recycling program at the synagogue, working with organizations helping the homeless, sending gifts and cards to Israeli soldiers, and advocating for Israel. “Social action is very ‘in’ right now,” said David. “It has deep roots in Jewish values, and if that is the way I can keep kids strengthening their Jewish identity and involved in the Jewish community — then that’s how I will do it.”

A similar model has been implemented for 11th- and 12th-graders at Temple Beth Shalom, a Conservative congregation in Livingston. There, students choose the focus and Rabbi Dan Dorsch, who runs the program, brings the text. Last year, they focused on hunger, studying Jewish texts, and then volunteering at two food banks.

According to Rosenberg, this model of teens having a voice in the design of the program is the next wave. “It helps to cultivate teen leadership. We are going to be seeing more of this in the next five years.”

Robert Lichtman, director of the Partnership for Jewish Learning and Life, an agency of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest based on the Aidekman campus, saw this trend emerging several years ago. He hired a full-time Jewish service learning coordinator — a first for an organization not entirely devoted to service learning. He views social action as “a new direction” for teen programming. “When the Partnership was created six years ago, one of the key things that sparked its creation was engaging teens. And community service clearly engages them. Our job is to make it holy — to make it Jewish, to put it in a Jewish context.”

The numbers speak for themselves. Whereas the Partnership’s straightforward learning programs attracts 120-150 kids a year, one-day community volunteer programs like JServe can attract 300-400 teens. Even in the summer, Mitzvah Mania, a two-week program in August offering a different community service project every day, is expected to attract a few dozen teens. Numbers have jumped this summer from the past few years, when there were five-seven teens participating in each project.

The “more is better” approach has been adopted at several religious schools, including Congregation Beth El in South Orange and Shomrei Emunah in Montclair. While Beth El offers a choice of three separate options (service learning, discussion-based programming, and leadership training through serving as a classroom assistant), Shomrei Emunah offers a single option that changes from session to session (one night might be social action, the next pizza with the rabbi, the third a discussion). “I believe that a multifaceted approach to teen engagement is necessary to reach Jewish teens at different places on their Jewish journeys,” said Sherri Morris, director of education at Beth El.

‘Deepen the impact’

While many local education professionals place the explosion of interest in social action and Jewish service learning at anywhere from three to seven years ago, Rosenberg said teen volunteering actually began rising much earlier — in the early 1990s.

Some see the trend as driven by high school community service requirements, the pressure of college applications, and teens’ highly structured lives.

Rabbi Shmuel Greene, director of teen initiatives at the Partnership, explained, “Teens are more and more programmed. They have no free time for hanging out. Everything they do is very thought out, and it’s always about getting into college.”

Napchen, from the Central JCC, added, “There is a ton of pressure and competition for high school students approaching the college application process. With such packed schedules, teens need to pick and choose where they can focus their involvement. They feel like their time is better spent with a program that can help with the application process.”

Lichtman points to a confluence of factors, including parental influence, general media messages stressing the importance of global awareness and “giving back,” and current educational practices. For Reform Jews especially, tikun olam — literally, repairing the world — is at the center of the movement’s philosophy and programming. “If you had to come up with a tagline for the Reform movement today, it would be tikun olam,” Lichtman said. And educationally, many religious schools and secular schools have embraced the experiential education model over strict frontal learning. As Rosenberg put it, “Service learning is a form of experiential education that marries idealism and a desire to make a change with effective models of Jewish learning. When programs are well designed they really deepen the impact of the action.”

The result? “Jewish educators are putting the pieces together. And that’s why Jewish service learning has become so important,” said Lichtman.

At Temple B’nai Jeshurun, a Reform congregation in Short Hills, all the students from kindergarten through 12th grade undertake social action projects mixed with formal learning. “From a practical perspective, it’s nice to do and it looks good when it comes to getting into college; I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t a component,” said TBJ youth educator Sarah Silversten.

But, when it comes to the younger children, there is no such motivation. “Kids want to volunteer. It speaks to them. It resonates with them.

“If you ask kids what being Jewish means, I highly doubt they will say they are developing a relationship with God,” said Silversten. “But doing tikun olam speaks to the values of Judaism they understand.”

‘A safe haven’

Of course, not everyone has turned to Jewish service learning and social action as a panacea for the seeming problem of youth engagement. At Adath Shalom in Morris Plains, one example of many, social programming still seems to offer what teens are looking for. The Conservative synagogue has one of the most successful United Synagogue Youth chapters in the area. “They really like the organized youth group,” said Marla Katz, head of youth programming. “We tried social action, but it didn’t work. The first year we had maybe eight kids, the second we were down to two.”

But, Katz said, 50 kids attend a typical USY social event (to be fair, USY does include a social action component). The one thing her kids have in common with everyone else? “They do not want to be in a classroom even if the educators and the classes are cool and sexy,” she said.

Back at the Scotch Plains JCC, an agency of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ, Napchen is still amazed at the numbers of teens drawn to her program. Although the youth lounge is gone, she can get 50 kids applying for the teen leadership program, 30 kids helping out at Super Sunday, and 20 volunteering at “Family Fun Fest,” an annual spring fund-raiser.

“I’ve never had such a large concentrated level of participation among high school students,” Napchen said. “I’ve tried running purely social programs and events, and have found that my participation has been greater when offering community service hours for the programs.”

She does look for opportunities to offer the social and relaxation time she feels young people so desperately need. “I want them to enjoy their time spent in the JCC with their JCC friends. One of my favorite moments was during Come ALIVE in the Community — our huge teen community service event in April — when I stumbled across a group of 15 or so teens sitting together in the corner of a hallway laughing together after they had finished their project.

“I didn’t mind that they weren’t doing something productive because they were together, in the JCC, having fun with each other. To me, that was a success.”


Teen service

FOR MORE INFORMATION about teen service learning opportunities, contact:

• Your local synagogue

• Partnership for Jewish Learning and Life: Leah Weiss, Jewish service learning coordinator, 973-929-2966 or [email protected] (

• Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ: 973-929-3000 (Whippany) or 908-889-5335 (Scotch Plains) (

• JCC MetroWest: teen program department, 973-530-3400 (

• JCC of Central New Jersey: Lindsay Napchen, youth and teen services director, 908-889-8800, ext. 203, or [email protected] (

• YM-YWHA of Union County: Jeff Schultz at 908-289-8112, ext. 28, or [email protected] (

• Repair the World: 646-695-2700 (

A Story in the Tapestry: Revamping the Concept of Repairing the World

This post was written by Analucia Lopezvoredo, and originally published in the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation blog on July 26th, 2012.

Analucia LopezrevoredoAnalucia Lopezrevoredo is a resident of the Moishe House in Portland, Oregon. Moishe House is an international organization providing meaningful Jewish experiences to young adults in their twenties through home-based communities. Moishe House recently partnered with Repair the World to host a retreat on Jewish service-learning. Repair the World is an organization that is working to build a movement to make service a defining element of American Jewish life, learning and leadership. This post is a reflection on that retreat.

The term “tikkun olam” has become synonymous with social justice and social action. As Jews, our goal is to fulfill the idea of “repairing the world” by serving communities in need. Though this notion is far from new (dating back to classical rabbinic literature in Lurianic kabbalah), many Jews still find themselves unable to truly connect with this concept. As residents of Moishe House, our goal is to facilitate the fulfillment of “tikkun olam” on a micro and macro level for young Jewish adults in our respective communities. With the help of both Moishe House International and Repair the World, residents of various Houses came together a few weeks ago to critically discuss ways to effectively create service-learning programs.

As someone who feels strongly connected to my local and global community, I’ve never had to convince myself to do service in my free time. It has always been a priority of mine, and something that has helped define who I am. It was no surprise that the majority of people in attendance were similarly committed to the pursuit of social justice and structural change. Hailing from nine different states, retreat participants brought with them diverse experiences, which made for a dynamic weekend. It did not take long to realize, however, that we’ve all struggled to get members of our communities to engage in our service programs. Service, we realized, does not mean the same thing to everyone, and to many, our House events are primarily social or cultural. People come to our programs to meet new folks, reconnect with old friends, and celebrate cultural events and holidays. While these factors help explain why service-learning events have not been amongst our most popular programs in the past, the truth is that service is often a difficult activity in which to engage.

When asked, many people would probably agree that service is something they’d like to do more often. And yet, it calls for people to step out of their comfort zone, give up precious free time and often work with people they don’t know. For some introverts (and even some extroverts), this can be awkward and has the potential to tarnish one’s perception of their role in taking action. As Moishe House residents, we understand how important it is to connect with others. People continue to come to our events because they feel welcomed and feel as if they belong to a community. With this in mind, I realized that in order to revamp our service programs we must first revamp how they are perceived.

For the most part, our Shabbat dinner events are the most popular programs we host. This is partially because they are laid back, but also because people strive to feel and stay connected with others. Giving service-learning events a social twist might be what we need in order to attract our ever-enthusiastic communities to our “tikkun olam” events. If people start to see all of our events as opportunities for community building, then the need to constantly recruit service-minded individuals may become obsolete. We can make Sunday afternoons of service a tradition and the “learning” component of the programs can be combined with a post-service discussion over a delicious meal or drinks. Whatever we choose to do, there is only room for our service programming to grow.

The sessions at the retreat were fantastic. Presenters like Marilyn Sneiderman, the Executive Director of AVODAH, and Will Berkovitz, Senior Vice President of Repair the World, challenged us to think critically about service projects that inspired us, as well as those that turned us away. As a group we shared our fears, goals and triumphs, and most importantly built a strong support network that will continue to be a part of our organization’s success.  Our natural environment was crucial in our takeaway.

Though excruciatingly hot for most of us, our free time was largely spent exploring the grounds of the enchanting Pearlstone Retreat Center. A night hike concluded our time at the Center, and the unforgettable East Coast storm on June 29th that knocked down trees and power lines reminded us all of how small we were in the hands of the almighty. In the end, the retreat was grand in content but (sadly) short in time. We parted ways at Baltimore Harbor, but not before culminating the weekend by volunteering our time at Living Classrooms, a non-profit educational organization that “inspires young people to achieve their potential through hands-on education and job training, using urban, natural, and maritime resources as ‘living classrooms.’” Our time with Living Classrooms sealed our bond with a service-learning experience. Though it was undoubtedly difficult to say goodbye to my new friends, I smiled knowing that soon enough we would meet again with stories of success.

Thinking about the Goals of Jewish Service-Learning

Jewish service-learning is a hot topic, and rightly so. Funders, policy makers and academics have noticed a groundswell of activism and energy in the Jewish world, especially among young people, and have hopped on board. This has led to an expansion of service-learning opportunities for young Jews. This is a good thing.

But what are the goals of service-learning? Service-learning is, obviously, related to service, and dependent on it, but they are not the same thing. The goal of service is to benefit the person or community served. The goal of service-learning is, in addition to the service performed, some kind of learning from the experience. The person who is doing the service ought to undergo some growth or beneficial development. What can we say about that growth?

To begin, we want that growth to be more than the acquisition of knowledge or skills. It has to be thought about in terms of aspects of character, or “dispositions.” We may want people engaged in service-learning to know certain things, and to learn how to do certain things, but beyond that, we want them to become certain kinds of people.

What kinds of people? I tried to think about this question for the purpose of an article recently published* in a special issue of the Journal of Jewish Communal Service, using the biblical scholarship of James Kugel as a platform for my inquiry. (The entire issue was devoted to Jewish service-learning, and was created through a collaboration with Repair the World.) That may seem like an odd approach to the question, but Kugel has some interesting things to say about the idea of avodat Hashem, the service of God. Working through Kugel’s idea of avodat Hashem opened the door to thinking about service more generally.

Certain attributes emerge as particularly significant.

First, service-humility. These days, the world of non-profit management focuses not merely on doing good, but on solving problems. If we want to see significant and enduring change in the world, we have to develop strategies that take responsibility for that change and that have a reasonable shot at achieving it, in whole or in part. This makes sense. But on the other hand, this kind of gung-ho, problem-solving attitude can lead to a kind of arrogance about our roles. So, as a counter-balance, we might want to encourage a deep and abiding humility in the face of deep and abiding social problems, the kind of humility that we associate not with generating solutions but simply with doing God’s will in the world.

Second, service-discipline. We rightfully celebrate lives of moral heroism, extraordinary deeds of courage or sacrifice. Those examples give us language to articulate important values. But they may also distract us from other kinds of service, non-heroic, small-scale work in the world. This kind of service is not characterized by great feats of valor. It is characterized by fidelity, by showing up every day, by constancy and consistency.

A Hillel director recently told me, with pride, about the student who created a soup kitchen to meet a particular need, and the way that that student has been able to enlist other students in order to sustain the project. The Hillel director is not proud of him because of his heroism, or his social innovation. The student displayed initiative and leadership, but there is nothing particularly innovative about a soup kitchen, and no one imagines that this effort is going to solve the social problem of hunger! Instead, she is proud of him because of his commitment to service, to being at the soup kitchen every Wednesday night, to serving the homeless with respect and dignity. The virtue that he displays, and that we might want to cultivate in service-learning across the board, is what we might call “service-discipline.”

Finally, service-wisdom. The paradigmatic dilemma of service-learning is this: what is good for the learner is not necessarily good for the person or community served. In fact, the history of service is full of well-intentioned efforts to help that have gone awry. We have to acknowledge that the moral path is not always a clear one, that frequently our choices require not fortitude and heroism but careful calibration of the effects of our actions in order to choose the best way forward.

But this is not only a matter of the practical difficulties of doing good in the world. Engaging in service means, at one level, submission: we submit our will and our desires to the will of the Other or to the greater good. There is great nobility in this, and great satisfaction. But the submission of will must not entail a submission of intellect. Instead, paradoxically, we must simultaneously submit our will and retain our capacity for independent and critical judgment. For theists, we must simultaneously do what God wants us to do in the world, and always pursue our own understanding of what we believe God actually wants us to do in the world. We might call this capacity “service-wisdom,” the third dispositional goal of service-learning.

Are these three dispositions the only goals of service-learning? Surely not. But our service-learning projects and programs will benefit, I think, if we can think more clearly about our goals, and in particular, if we can think about those goals in dispositional terms. Then we can ask: In what ways are our service-learning programs designed to cultivate these dispositional goals, and how well are they achieving those goals, and how might they do that more effectively?

Jon A. Levisohn is Assistant Professor of Jewish Education at Brandeis University, and Assistant Academic Director of the Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education.

* The PDF of this article is available for download from the Mandel Center’s website. This article is disseminated with the permission of the Jewish Communal Service Association, publishers of the Journal of Jewish Communal Service.

Get the Most Out of Your School Day with

Have you ever participated in a service-learning program at school? If so, you know that the model of combining traditional classroom learning with a related, real-world volunteer opportunity, is an incredibly engaging (and fun!) way to maximize any educational experience.

It also probably left you wanting more. That’s where the National Service-Learning Clearninghouse comes in. A project of the Corporation for National & Community Service, the clearinghouse is like a one-stop shopping portal to the world of service-learning opportunities.

Teachers get access to ideas and resources to help connect their classroom content with student-led service initiatives. And students from kindergarten through college can check out YouthSITE! to connect with one another, share ideas about how to make a real impact, and get all kinds of inspiration for future projects. Students aged 13-25 can also participate in the Youth Speakers Bureau, which gives young service leaders an opportunity to articulate what they have learned about themselves, school subjects, and life through service-learning.

Whether you’re a service-learning pro or a complete newbie, the clearninghouse has resources to enrich your educational life, and help you make a difference in your community. Find out more about the National Service-Learning Clearninghouse, and the amazing things service-learning can bring to your school at the video below:

How have you engaged in service-learning this year? Let us know by tweeting @repairtheworld.

Chidush Workshop Launches Service-Learning Approach

Nearly 90 Jewish educators and Boulder community members gathered at Sunday’s Chidush workshop, “A Service-Learning Toolbox” to learn about ways to incorporate Service Learning in their classrooms.

The workshop was facilitated by Rabbi Will Berkovitz from Repair the World. The program was designed with the assistance of Boulder’s Jewish Educational Directors from BET, the Boulder Educators Team, and was co-sponsored by 18 Pomegranates and Repair the World.

Repair the World is a national organization dedicated to making service a defining element of Jewish life, learning and leadership, and aims to assist communities in embedding the values of service and social justice into the DNA of their operations.

The workshop was aimed at exploring the historical, theological and philosophical framework behind service learning, discussing how to incorporate such values into the fabric of Jewish supplemental education, and beginning a larger conversation about scaling-up such efforts. 18 Pomegranates and BET see this workshop as a step toward creating a larger “city of service” strategy in which institutions begin working together, across denominational and organizational lines, toward a common educational vision of service and social justice.

Also as part of today’s workshop, Charna Rosenholtz was honored as the 2011 Grinspoon-Steinhardt winner from Boulder. She utilized her stipend to participate in the Aleph Ordination Program Intensive Study week.

The Boulder Educator’s Council (BET) includes Congregations Har HaShem, Bonai Shalom, Nevei Kodesh, Aish Kodesh and Beth Ami; Longmont Hebrew School; Boulder JCC, Boulder Hebrew High; and Boulder Stepping Stones.

For those who may have missed the tweets this morning, we’ve assembled a few of them (these read top down). These include quotes from Rabbi Berkovitz’s opening talk as well as some of the report-out comments from breakout sessions (grouped by age of students). Thanks to Jonathan Lev of the Boulder JCC for livetweeting the event!

Join Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village for a Family Service Learning Experience

Looking for meaningful summer vacation ideas for your family? This August, Repair the World grantee-partner the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village is offering the opportunity of a lifetime with their Family Service Learning Trip to the ASYV village in rural Rwanda.

This unique family trip combines service with opportunities for touring and cultural exchange. Participants will explore Rwanda’s beauty and biodiversity with a visit to Akagera Game Park (home to hippos, giraffes and more), hike through local rice paddies and take a guided tour of the nation’s capital city, Kigali. And with service options ranging from working with villagers to make art and create a gallery space, to playing sports with the kids and teens and farming in the ASYV farm – everyone in the family will have an opportunity to volunteer in a way that is meaningful to them and impactful for the village.

Like all of ASYV’s programs, trip participants will come away with a deeper understanding about the devastating Rwandan Genocide, which killed more than 800,000 people, orphaned nearly 1.2 million children and left the country in ruins. And it will give participants the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of the ASYV villagers.

ASYV’s Family Service Learning program costs $1200-1500 per person (excluding airfare) and includes all meals and transportation in Rwanda, accommodations, and classes/learning sessions with ASYV Staff and Educators. To find out more, contact Rachel Olstein Kaplan at rachel[@] or 212-863-1352.

Find out more about ASYV’s service learning programs and other opportunities to volunteer here, or on their website.