I’ve Been Here Before: Staff Reflection – Sonia Garfinkel

Sonia (2nd from l) takes a break as a teen on YJ 2012 AWB NOLA

My name is Sonia Garfinkel, I’m 20 years old I go to Smith College. I have been involved in Young Judaea for many years and have been a staff member at Camp Tel Yehudah for three. Alternative Winter Break is an experience that I love. I started my AWB journey when I was a junior in high school in New Orleans and the next year as a senior in LA.

Yesterday the staff woke up bright and early and went to the New Orleans airport to meet up with our 17 incredible teens who we are so excited to get to know this week. We met them in small waves and brought them back to the hotel to relax a bit before we start getting to know each other. All the teenagers were up very early to catch their flights. After an hour having the kids snack and adjust to their rooms, Nathan, out AWB leader, brought the kids together and I got to lead the first ice breaker. I chose Wa, a Judaean classic, so everyone was able to learn each other’s name in a fun and interactive way. Noah, Miriam, and Hillary followed with an exciting game of Walmart and Ninja.

Because our teens were young when Hurricane Katrina hit, we thought it was important to educate them on what really happened and why it’s still important that we volunteer here in Nola 11 years later. We watched part of Stan Lee’s 4 part documentary “When the Levies Broke” and read articles and poems about the catastrophe. We then had a conversation about what happened when the hurricane hit, and answered some of their questions. We encourage the participants to be actively engaged, and always to ask questions. I, and the rest of the staff are so excited for the week to come!