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  • Annon

Can Teen Olim Adapt and Thrive?

Starting Over

Against her wishes, Dina had made aliyah from Los Angeles with her family about three years ago. She hadn’t wanted to leave her friends or her favorite hang-out spots. She’d been absolutely furious about being forced to leave everything she was comfortable with, to start from scratch in a new place.

Three years on, and Dina was still angry. She hated her new environment and refused to speak Hebrew. She was silent at school and doing poorly in her classes.  She had no friends because she wouldn’t speak to anybody, even though she was able to. This all made her even angrier, and only deepened her longing to return to L.A. where she had been happy and successful.

Can a Mentor help?

Kav L’Noar paired Dina with a mentor named Ma’ayan.  Ma’ayan was the daughter of American Olim. Ma’ayan was chosen because even though she was born and raised in Israel, she understood American culture and style very well.  She dressed in American fashion and kept up with American news. She bought her clothes on American websites and her circle of friends included both English speakers and native Israelis.

Ma’ayan’s Kav L’Noar supervisor instructed her specifically not to pressure Dina into speaking Hebrew when they spent time together.  The goal was not to force or push integration. Her role was to be a friend – someone outside Dina’s family and school circles who Dina could enjoy spending time with, and perhaps open up to. Their relationship did indeed blossom, and as they grew to know each other, Ma’ayan shared stories about her own experiences in high school and in National Service. Although Ma’ayan had an American family-background, her experiences were uniquely Israeli, and Dina started to connect to her stories and her culture in the most gentle and natural way.  

Supporting Dina as she adapts to life in Israel

One day while at the mall, Dina tripped on an escalator and broke her leg. She was unable to go to school while she healed. Her classmates reached out to her, brought home her schoolwork and helped her keep up with her lessons. For the first time, Dina willingly accepted their help, and very tentatively, started speaking to them in Hebrew. It was a huge breakthrough and an important step in adapting to her new life in Israel. With Ma’ayan’s support, Dina has continued to integrate into her current surroundings in a positive way and has plans to stay in Israel and make the best of her new life.

Maayan continues to mentor Dina, and to support her as she continues to adapt to life in Israel.

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