Mountain Eco Lodge

Posted by: Charlaine A.

After discovering GoEco through a local organization I decided to partake in an internship abroad, I was embarking on an opportunity to discover a new country with its local population, its customs, religion and lifestyle. I turned to Israel, a unique country with its numerous and diverse landscapes, particular mode of life, and rich history filled with cultural and religious significance. So I volunteering in Israel at the Mountain Eco Lodge, a rich green gem nestled on the south slope of Mount Hermon on the Golan Heights.

Nimrod is located on the opposite side of a mountain that juxtaposes the Syrian border slope. Located just 60 kilometers from Damascus, the area is highly recommended by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. On August 21, 2013, it came to light on the world stage that Syria was using chemical weapons in civil war. Barack Obama began to prepare for an attack on Syria as a response to the use of these weapons on their own people; however Israel became aware that an American intervention may cause local repercussions. An attack form America could result in a retaliation from Syrian President Bashar al- Assad or his ally Hezbollah, that would be executed by targeting the Jewish state and historic ally of Washington. At the end of August, General Hassan Firouzabadi, Chief of Staff of the Iranian armed forces, stated that military action against Syria would leave Israel “at the edge of the flames.” Tel Aviv began to distribute gas masks to residents, and the Golan Heights deployed its missile shield, thus protecting them from possible attack. In a period of extreme tension, it was recommended that my internship should be cancelled however feeling confident in GoEco and being taken good care of so far, I decided to still go ahead with volunteering in Israel.

My early days were very upsetting for me. Between the impact of bombs for a few exercises on the Golan Heights and the many well-armed soldiers present in Israel, the adjustment period to this new culture was difficult. Now, in hindsight, I do not regret taking the plunge and doing the internship in this tense time at all. I realized that above all, it was the journalists who gave me a feeling of anxiety and fear by exaggerating the situation. The country is very well equipped in case of attack, and the inhabitants of the Golan Heights live completely normal lives. Certainly this is not a usual situation for us Westerners, but in Israel, it is a part of everyday life and in no way interferes with day to day activties or people’s happiness. Moreover, the project boasted a stunning and exotic landscape.

The Hebrew calendar is completely different (Sunday being the first day of the week for example) and I was lucky enough to volunteer during the month of September, which is the most festive of the year. I had the opportunity to participate in many festivals with the family in which I lived. Between Rosh Hashanah (New Year), Yom Kippur, and Sukkot, Simchat Torah, I discovered a new religion, rich with its customs, food, and songs. My only regret is that my boss was very busy with tourists present in eco -lodges for the so-called “Sukkot” holiday. As the festive season is not only the time when Israelis have their vacation but also a popular time for tourist to visit from abroad, the eco -lodges are booked throughout the month of September in general.

This experience for me was a culmination of a great school year. My studies prior to the internship gave me plenty of knowledge that I could use and implement into my volunteer program. Having the opportunity to put into practice what I had studied in the theoretical course was a great experience for me. Fulfilling my internship abroad showed me both positive and negative points. For example, I think if I work later in France it will be interesting to see how a worker organizes their French site. What is the quality of his work? How is that there? The methods used in Israel are far from those practiced in France, particularly in regard to safety issues.

I couldn’t help but notice the speed of execution and enjoyment of all the workers in my group as we created things from our own hands. It is true that it was not easy to get the dead wood. There was a lot of crooked boards, broken, already screwed, different sizes, all that were in constant need of resizing and reworking before we could use them well. Every drop was used with spare and unused wood being cut for fire. A phenomenal time was lost in this kind of cutting, but Guy was adamant about the reuse of timber. Guy realizes all of these own hands from recycled materials, it is not a poser or installer of industrial products and we can largely felt in his way of working . Moreover, the will and the work performed by Guy was my Right Honourable eyes. This is a man who knows a lot. It works only on his own, manages both the maintenance , management of its guest rooms , as the construction of its eco- lodges. Thus, between the insulation, carpentry, plumbing, and electricity, this course has taught me a lot . It is with knowledge of Guy I could have a wide range of activity.

I am pleased to have my internship in Israel. The course was a discovery for me both architectural, and cultural and linguistic diversity. During my weekend, I visited Jerusalem and the Old City, Yad Vashem museum Moshe Safdi, the Museum of Art in Tel Aviv Preston Scott Cohen, Masada in the Judean desert, Bethlehem, or Dead Sea. My fear with respect to the current was very strong at the beginning of my stay, but I quickly adapted to the Israeli context. It was a very rewarding experience and I would particularly like to thank Guy and his wife Lilach, for their availability and receptions. I am also grateful to the association Jeunesse et Reconstruction including Fouad Bousnina for good grip of my file. A big thank you to the Go-Eco association and especially my monitor Yan for his kindness, and high availability.