Oct. 12, 2012
-- Westlake Village, California—In an exchange program with New Community Jewish High School of West Hills, California, 21 students of Hertzelia Hebrew Gymnasium visited Oaks Christian School (OCS) on October 10. The group of 10th-grade students were chaperoned by Tel Aviv teacher and program coordinator Lior Sibony and New Community Jewish High School Coordinator and Hebrew Instructor Adina Farkash Cohen. OCS Bible Teacher Steve Hagberg arranged the visit as part of Oaks Christian School’s commitment to engaging cultural exchange and dialogue.
The students from Tel Aviv enjoyed lunch and classroom visits at Oaks Christian School, which included a time to ask questions of OCS teachers and students about American education, Oaks Christian School culture, and impressions of Israel. OCS junior Bailee Ahern shared what life is like for a student at Oaks Christian School and guessed correctly that Israel is about the size of New Jersey. Tel Aviv students were curious about school uniforms and several OCS students shared that they liked the uniforms because it simplifies getting ready in the morning. Tel Aviv students remarked that their classrooms are quite a bit smaller with many more students. Many other questions and comparisons were discussed.
Exchanging cultural impressions, OCS students helped dispel the myth that everyone is living like movie stars and shared that their minds are more fixed on college plans than Hollywood drama. Tel Aviv students dispelled myths common to their homeland. “We are not as primitive as some people might think; Israel has more NASDAQ companies than all of Europe,” explained Tel Aviv student Jonathan Gilat. “And we are not an unsafe place to visit,” added Jade Marcus. “I wish the world would not look at us as an aggressive country, but as a pluralistic, human rights protector,” said Philosophy Teacher Lior Sibony. “We are trying to be the light for the region and the world.”
A lively cultural exchange continued to take place when the students visited Mr. Barry Fike’s CP English class where the students had been discussing “The Scarlett Letter.” Mr. Fike explained his curriculum and what the students were currently studying. The students quickly began discussing many topics of interest to both groups. When OCS students asked the visitors what produced the most stress in their lives, the Tel Aviv students shared that matriculation exams create the most worry for them. This proves that tests are the common stress among high school students around the world.
The Tel Aviv students poised for some photos and then boarded their bus to continue their tour of Los Angeles. Next stop was, of course, Hollywood.