“This year’s HIP program was different and unique,” said Hanna Sivan, program coordinator at the Environmental High School. “This year’s program was completely different from the one we know,” noted Assa Baumer, the high school principal. “What a fun program!” I am told by the 10th graders who hosted this year’s HIP students.
When taking a deep look at the change, it turns out that both staff and students at the Environmental High School felt that this year they were hosting a familiar group of high-quality people who connected easily with the high school students.
This year, unlike previous years, the students and their parents competed for the chance to host the guests from Denver. The reception at the airport was full of excitement, and Ramat Hanegev students vied for a seat on the bus next to the kids from Denver. All of this is a direct and ongoing result of the summer’s delegation of 9th grade graduates who went to Denver and stayed at the homes of local teens. The conversation at their renewed encounter in November came from a place of familiarity, warmth and friendship.
The feeling all round was that this year, more so than in the past, we managed to create a true and ongoing connection between Ramat Hanegev students and Denver students, forming a significant lifelong partnership.
This year’s program began with the outbreak of the Pillar of Defense operation, causing a week’s delay in the Denver group’s arrival. Denver students assured me they had never considered cancelling the program since their parents’ insisted to the contrary: “Go! Go to Israel and meet the wonderful friends who stayed with us here in Denver.”
This message and the sense of security the Israeli students were able to instill in the guests from Denver created a pleasant, high-powered atmosphere for this year’s HIP program. 9th grade students are already looking forward to the youth delegation due to visit Denver this coming September.