Meet Sarah

Sarah

Volunteers in multiple programs and worked as our Sydney Programs Coordinator in 2012.

My first experience with JAA was tutoring on the Biala Homework program. At my first session I remember being so impressed by the energy and passion of the tutors. I was also so impressed by the selection of games. There was no need for expensive gimmicks or props, just pure creative fun. It was like being a kid again! With curious ears I listened to some of the tutors talk about their experiences volunteering on other JAA programs. I knew I was in the right atmosphere by the way they spoke about the programs with such positive intention and energy. Naturally I felt compelled to get more involved. This is what led me to Derech Eretz and from then on I was hooked!

“I really value that the programs are based on universal principles of love and

respect for one another, and working together to build equal opportunities for all,

always with a lot of fun and joy in the mix of it all.”

Transitioning from a volunteering role into my coordinating role at JAA felt very natural. I was fortunate enough to be offered a maternity leave position. With the support from the JAA team, and the existing knowledge of the programs I had acquired through volunteering, I was able to step into the coordinating role. I found it really enjoyable learning about all the processes behind running a program; from volunteer management, to strategic planning, to community consultation, to logistical planning. It was a real learning curve.

And I feel very connected to the programs and people at JAA. I really value that the programs are based on universal principles of love and respect for one another, and working together to build equal opportunities for all, always with a lot of fun and joy in the mix of it all. It’s also been really special to see how the exchange of culture has been such a strong point for building relationships with communities. Both on Derech Eretz, where we are referred to affectionately as the ‘Jewish Mob’, and with the Darfur community, where we have had chances for cultural exchange, it is wonderful to share our culture and learn about others; it make me feel very proud.

When I think about my role at JAA, there are so many things that inspire me to continue my involvement. The strength of relationships with community and volunteers, and those moments where you see the positivity of these relationships, is something that I find particularly special. An example of this was when I volunteered on Camp Pathways in July 2013. We had a Masterchef-style cook-off at Our Big Kitchen, facilitated by dietician Jess Lewis and organized by Kez, where the kids had to split into smaller groups to cook a dinner dish. The kids were really immersed, and this was particularly the case for the four boys with whom Alice and I were paired. I’ve never seen a group of boys work so hard on a dish, with so much focus, and to be so proud of what they created. And it was delish! Such a highlight for me. That image will stay in my memory for ever.

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