Campus Life Team
The Campus Life Team consists of the Campus Life Director, the Campus Life Coordinator, and two Program Associates. The Program Associates are alumni of the program. They live on campus with the students and work with the Campus Life Director and the Campus Life Coordinator to run the program.
Campus Life Director
Illana was born in Russia and immigrated to Israel as a child. She was an Ecosystem Service assessment intern and a Program Associate at the Arava Institute in 2015. The experience greatly influenced her. In July 2018, she completed her MA at Tel Aviv University, researching social identity of sustainable fashion designers and consumers. She is the co-initiator of the Sustainable Fashion Forum in Israel, and is involved with many cultural, social and sustainable projects, mainly in Tel Aviv, working with both local activists and decision makers. In addition, she worked at Tel Aviv University’s Porter School of Environmental Studies as an international internship coordinator. Illana lives a zero waste life, enjoys yoga, cycling, and multi-cultural music.
Campus Life Coordinator
Aviv Saad grew up in Givatayim in the center of Israel, today he lives in Kibbutz Grofit in the Arava with his partner Gili. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Humanities and Literature from Tel Aviv University. Before working at the Institute, he ran informal educational programs as part of Educating for Excellence, the Israeli Scouts, and the Kibbutz Grofit afterschool program. He has also been an Emissary for the Jewish Agency in Los Angeles, and lead the Garin Tzabar program for young Americans joining the IDF. Aviv moved to the Arava region in 2019, and enjoys riding bicycles, practicing yoga, and hiking through the area.
Amelia grew up in the pine forests and mountains of the Pacific Northwest in the US. She graduated with a BA in Environmental Studies and a focus on Sustainable Food and Farming in 2017 from the University of Montana. Following her studies, she served two years on the Board of Directors for a nonprofit engaged in connecting sustainable agriculture and renewable energy to foster local food systems in Montana. In other positions she’s been behind the wheels of dump trucks and tractors, and traveled much of the United States conducting visitor surveys on wildlife refuges. She completed the spring 2020 semester at the Arava Institute as an intern studying desert ecology, particularly insects and soil in Evrona Nature Preserve. Her interests are in soil ecology, plastics, and science communication. Amelia is thrilled to be returning to the Arava Institute as a PA, and looks forward to campus projects including mud building, gardening, crafting, and cooking traditional foods with students and interns!
David Ben Yehuda
David was born and raised in a kibbutz in the North of Israel. He studied at the Arava Institute for two semesters in 2017-18. During the last two years David worked as an outdoor educator at Pearlstone, a Jewish retreat center, in the USA. David practices Judaism, yoga, the Russian martial art systema, permaculture, and environmentalism. He sees the intersection between all of these practices as his holistic spiritual path. In 2019 David completed certifications in permaculture and teaching yoga. David is passionate about languages, participates in many outdoor activities, and enjoys playing various instruments, especially around a campfire. David is very thankful and motivated to return “home” as a Program Associate since his experience at the Arava Institute provided him with an everlasting life transformation
Campus Life Activities
Outside of their academic schedule, students frequently take part in a variety of extracurricular activities including desert hiking, yoga, gardening, camping, mud building, music and horseback riding. There are regular potluck dinners, festive meals and religious and secular holiday activities, as well as culture, music and movie nights.
Each semester, students are encouraged to form their own activity groups based on subjects they want to teach and learn. Past activities have included conversational Hebrew and Arabic, salsa dance, gardening and environmental action, and creative writing.
Students are also invited to take part in Kibbutz events, holidays, and general activities. Students often mingle with kibbutz members and volunteers at the kibbutz pub and have the opportunity to be hosted by a kibbutz family for meals and coffee during the semester.
Although there are students on campus during the weekends and breaks, during the semester many students choose to travel, often being hosted in the homes of classmates or alumni that they meet on the program. The Arava Road, or Highway 90, runs just outside the main kibbutz gate, with buses going south to Eilat (a resort city on the Red Sea that borders Aqaba, Jordan) and north to the Dead Sea (two hours away), Be’er Sheva (three hours away), Tel Aviv and Jerusalem (each four hours away). For a quicker get-away, students visit a neighboring kibbutz called Yotvata, which is famous for its delicious ice cream and chocolate milk, made fresh from Yotvata’s dairy.