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Friends of the Arava Institute

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Nonprofit Overview

Mission: Friends of the Arava Institute is the North American nonprofit organization that is focused on raising visibility and support for the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies. The Arava Institute is a ground-breaking academic institution located in the south of Israel built on the philosophy that Nature Knows No Borders. Operating in a region of historic conflict, the Institute brings together young future leaders from Israel, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, and beyond, to study common environmental challenges as a platform not only for advancing sustainability but for developing the trust, respect, and understanding that can serve as a foundation for peace.

Geographic areas served: North America

Programs: Supported domestic and international programs that foster environmental cooperation between israel and neighboring countries

Community Stories

52 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Institute represents something much more significant than simply an educational establishment. It was wonderful witnessing and experiencing a sense of togetherness with humans from both sides of the 'border' (whether that be within Israel or outside).

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As an Arab and Jordanian student my main concern was to meet and introduce myself to another culture were i can find understanding to the peace process that been going around for years now but not clearly going as fast as i expected . so i decided to find a chance to help in this process not through politics but through the people themselves , but arava institute didnt cover that side only for me , as i learned that our similarities more than our differences and i also learned about environment , leadership, energy , and created a great and lovely friends from all over the world . its more than anyone expectations from one course , so i cant call it a course i can call it a life chance for developing my self , wishing you all the best in the future.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Volunteering at the Friends of the Arava Institute has changed the way I view the interplay between society and the environment. Gaining an appreciation for the caliber of the individuals, and the vision, behind the Institute has instilled in me a greater hope for the future. My lasting impression of interning at the Friends of The Arava Institute: the laughs I shared with students, co-workers and fellow interns.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

i have friends who have worked for, and are related to this place. they have chosen it over other international options as it is one of if not the best place.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The students come to the Institute to learn, but it is the rest of us who have so much to learn from the students!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

it's sawsan.b from Jordan, i was a student in the Arava Institute for the year 2006/07. i consider that year as one of my greatest years i ever had. living in Arava was such a great experience, i learned and gained a lot in the institute. in a place like that where u can find Jordanians, Palestinians, Americans & Europeans living together for at least 4 months, sharing everything in their daily life become as one family going over all the barriers (politics, religion,etc) and become friends for life. where they also learning from each other and about each others' believes, country, thoughts, etc, strengthen their friendships. it is consider as a unique place with all the students' differences that becoming shallow later, studying and concerning for one important thing, our environment, having the logo of "nature knows no borders", hence nothing will stop this massage that we all believe in, and will always work to protect our shared environment and improve it. i'm glad for being an alumna from Arava Institute, i do appreciate the time i spent there and everything i learned, Machon Arava did change things in me, and for sure it was for good.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 4

My name is Elan Gerzon. I was originally born on a kibbutz in northern Israel, founded by my grandparents as refugees, and at a young age moved to the states. That being said, I have grown up exposed to several perspectives of cultures, often those cultures who seem to stay in conflict. But when I arrived back in Israel, to be a student at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, I actually learned that i knew very little about anything, regarding the history of the culture I come from, and that of those that so many Jews and Israelis regard as enemies, if not at the very least, strangers. I was forced to wrestled with the conundrum of having descended from a culture of refugees whose wounds reacted through creating another culture of refugees. I learned a great deal about the depth of my past, and no longer felt that the world of those "strangers," who identify themselves as either Arabs or as Palestinians, was as alienated from my life as before. I had to question a great deal of the education i was brought up with, while coming into an ever-deeper empathy and understanding of why the world may be the way it is today. My own Jewish identity has grown in such a sense that I could hardly imagine who I might have continued to become without the Arava Institute as a corner-stone in my own life's maturity. The lessons I learned regarding the inter-relationships between Israel and the Palestinian Authority's and the land they live on, have been invaluable. The questions raised as a student there always brought more questions than answers, which is quite an accomplishment. The connections and friendships I have with people of all ages from several otherwise conflicting backgrounds, are a rare occurence among young Israelis, let alone US. Americans. My work as a student with Dr. Elaine Solowey has ever since focused the rest of my life. The courses that the Arava Institute provides, and the intimate experience we cannot get away from so far south in the desert, gives every student a chance to find an intimate passion through so many inter-disciplinary fields of study, that their cohesion inevitably creates a kind of diversity, no other program in Israel, Jewish or otherwise, has yet even attempted, on such a scale. I am now and forever will be deeply indebted to all that the Arava Institute has taught me. Thank you Elan Gerzon AIES alumn 2004-05

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Fantastic organization in the heart of Israel's Negev Desert, bringing together Palestinians and Jews to work on the environment. Common issues, different approaches. A bridge to peace, in the process.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Joining the Arava Institute was one of the most amazing experiences I ever had during the spring of 2008. Arava Institute brings me to a different world where I can see how some people in the other side can be my friends at the time I used to pre consider them to be my enemies. A desert hike with two Jewish and one Muslim friends without fears or conflicts is one of the things that Arava gave me the opportunity to experience it.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 4

Israel needs this organization because it needs help in protecting its environment. The Friends of Arava is in the forefront of this worthy endeavor and deserves your support in safeguarding Israel's environment for future generations.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have taught environmental law several times at the Arava Institute. Teaching there is EXCITING and presents a challenge like no other, because of the diverse backgrounds and histories of the students. Without exception though, the students are engaged, and curious. They are there because they not only want to study cutting edge environmental issues, but also because they care most deeply about co-oexistence in the fragile Middle East. I am not aware of any place else in the world like the Arava Institute.

6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Arava Institute's program provides a valuable prototype for Israelis and Arabs to coexist long term. There are too few safe places for people with shared priorities to build relationships, and share their individual perspectives. Having the bike ride experience last year to raise funds for the program, and assisting the US friends of the arava institute back home has been a wonderful experience. B'Shalom, Eric Metzman

6

Volunteer

Rating: 4

During my time at the Arava Institute I was blessed with the opportunity to work and learn with brave individuals who in spite of their conflicting identities and narratives were committed to giving each other a chance and working together to combat the environmental issues that threaten our planet. The Arava Institute and the seemingly unlikely friendships that I made there give me hope that we can one day build peace and respect each other and Nature. A specific example? Looking around while building mud and straw benches and realizing that I was doing something constructive with people who otherwise might not have ever met someone from the "other side". Amazing.

6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

the arava institute has changed my life and many others since it first opened its door to teach people about how the environment knows no borders and that we have to work together to keep our planet healthy. i have met many people from very different walks of life, countries, and religions that are now my friends. what an eye opening experience. I wish everyone could study there.

7

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Working with the Arava Institute was a very multifaceted experience and I was very impressed with the efficiency and enthusiasm with which they are accomplishing their goals. Each of those facets is critical it its own right; together they combine to create global accomplishments which enhance life in the Middle East in many ways. Working with Arava I learned that education, conservation of resources, research into new environmental technologies and promotion of intercultural understanding ARE keys toward advancing the political problems in the region. On a fiscal note- I feel that it is important to say that the funds garnered through Arava's activities are well-spent. These people are not getting rich and the facilities are not palaces. The funds go to where they are needed most- for students, faculty, programming and research.

6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The mission of the Arava Institute and the effectiveness of its work give it great magnetism for me. I first learned about Arava through meeting an American rabbi who has taught there. We were at a conference on a completely different subject. His description of Arava was instantly compelling for me. The way it combines environmental education and peace-making in the Middle East relates strongly to my own career in other parts of the world. Natural systems recognize no political boundaries.

6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

AIES provides a truly unique experience not only for those in the region but for students from all over the world.

6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Friends of the Arava Institute is adept at supporting and building the Institute through communication and cross-cultural connectivity. I am impressed that AIES continually builds on the tripartite mission of increasing scholarship, building networks based on peace and understanding and being a positive contributor to environmental awareness and conservation.

7

Volunteer

Rating: 5

In Nov of 2008 I was fortunate enough to participate in in the Israel (Bike) Ride which is co-sponsored by the Institute. The ride itself was one of my lifetime highlights, never to be forgotten. But what I am writing about now was our overnight visit to the Arava Institute itself. Meeting the participating scholars and students convinced me that the important environmental work that is being done there is second in significance to the cross cultural relationships that are being formed there as well. I heartily recommend the Arava Institute for a Jewish Choice Award James Oser Philadelphia, PA, US

10

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been voluntarily helping the Friends of the Arava Institute to promote the the Arava Institute by speaking of my experiences as a student in this amazing program