Monday, January 15, 2018

Nativ College Leadership Program at GPM in India

GPM was privileged to have the Nativ College Leadership Program in Israel come volunteer with us this past month. During their 3-week trip to Mumbai, participants in the Nativ gap year program volunteered with several programs run by Gabriel Project Mumbai (GPM). The program was run in conjunction with JDC Entwine and supported by a Repair the World Alternative Break Micro Grant. The program's main focus was service learning and volunteering with vulnerable children in the GPM Love2Learn school in the Kalwa slum. Participants also connected with Jewish Indian youth in several social and learning settings, traveled to Jewish historical sites on the Konkan coast, participated in a 3-day camp with Indian Jewish youth, and learned in seminars on Indian Jewish history and international development.

Staff of both GPM and Nativ were extremely satisfied with the program. The director of Nativ, Yossi Garr, said that this experience far surpasses all other volunteer experiences that the participants had throughout the year. He said, “Everyone talks, but at GPM, you act. This is real.” Nativ has already begun making plans for next year’s cohort to come to GPM as well.

The GPM staff were also very impressed with the Nativ group. They demonstrated maturity, openness, curiosity, and a profound interest in serving the needs of vulnerable children in India. They quickly made cultural adjustments and shared many powerful insights about poverty and social responsibility.

Jacob Sztokman, GPM Founding Director, who accompanied the group, said: “It was thrilling to see US gap year participants in Israel taking on a tikkun olam project in Indian slum communities as part of their gap year! The Nativ group was excellent! Before they got to India we were worried about the age of the participants but the mostly 18-year old ‘Nativers’ proved to me mature, professional and hardworking! They chose to volunteer with children living in the slums as their winter break and its not easy teaching in the slums every day. A lot of great discussions were held based on some great classes in Jewish Perspectives on Social Development, Responsible Volunteering, Insights on Development work, Jewish India and many other classes made possible by the Repair the World Alternative Break Micro Grant. A great part of the Alternative Winter Break was the interactions between the 14 international participants and their Jewish Indian counterparts. They were lucky to participate in a local JDC India youth camp and visit Jewish communities in remote villages.

David Ranrajkar, Volunteer Liasion, who coordinated on the ground in Mumbai, said: : I was really impressed by the love the Nativ group showed the children. Everyone made sure to come everyday and give their 110%! I hope the Nativ group comes back next year!

Read words written by Reegan Moskowitz (Nativ 37 participant) about her experience in Mumbai (