Yemin Orde’s gap-year leadership programs for immigrant youth (called mechina in Hebrew) hosted two inspiring graduation programs.

At the men’s mechina, 55 graduates discussed new leadership skills and knowledge learned as they prepared to serve in Israel’s military.  At IsraElite, the women’s leadership program, 29 graduates proudly shared stories of their training experiences which included volunteering, serving as tour guides, and passing tests of physical endurance.

The men’s mechina, which is located in the northern town of Hatzor Haglilit, offers a 10-month course in physical training and academic programs designed to enhance leadership skills in preparation for meaningful military service and a productive civilian life.

Gap-Year Leadership Program Offers Experiential Learning

Graduate Amara discussed learning about Israel’s geographic history, both in the classroom and on regular trips around the country.  “We saw the desert in the Negev, snow in the Upper Galilee, and saw real history in Jerusalem. To really see Israel is to know and to understand the country, and to understand what we are going to be defending next year,” Amara  said.

The men’s gap year leadership program now has over 500 graduates, many of whom are serving in elite units or in command positions in their national service, while others are already studying in university or have entered the professional world.

The women’s mechina, called IsraElite,  is located in Migdal HaEmek. It was established in 2013 to empower young  women’s from the margins of Israeli society with the tools necessary to attain leadership positions in Israel’s military service or in life.

Anat Steiner, IsraElite Director, praised the graduates for their determination and courage over the course of the 10-month program.

“Sometimes you succeeded, and sometimes you succeeded beyond your dreams, but you never gave up. What do we wish for you in the future? That you continue to have the courage to take a chance, in many different areas,” Anat said.

One graduate, Naama, recalled her great fear the first time she was asked to give a 40 minute speech in front of her peers. “I was shocked and scared,” she said. “Today, I am not afraid! I can speak for 40 minutes in front of 20 of my peers. I can speak to a crowd like this of 400 people, and I am not afraid!”

The  gap year leadership program for women is the only such program that is specifically designed for young women who are immigrants or children of immigrants, mainly from Ethiopia or the former Soviet Union.

Click here to read more about Yemin Orde’s mechina programs.

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