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The student-run news site of The Masters School

Tower

The student-run news site of The Masters School

Tower

The Dominican exchange students who recently visited Masters have been recounting their positive experiences at the school. Similarly, Masters students hosting them heaped praise on the exchange students. The students hail from The Carmen School in the Dominican Republic, and they noted distinct cultural shocks when coming to the United States.
Exchange program provides students with valuable life experiences
Justine Pascutti, News Editor • April 20, 2024

“I loved being an exchange student, because it was something that I always wanted to experience. It was one of the best things that happened...

Alumna Maddy leaves Israel in wake of the Hamas attacks

Alumna+Maddy+Israel%2C+Class+of+2023%2C+was+in+Israel+at+the+time+of+Hamas+attacks.
Maddy Israel
Alumna Maddy Israel, Class of 2023, was in Israel at the time of Hamas’ attacks.

When the war began, Maddy Israel, ‘23, was living in East Talpiot, Jerusalem where she took classes in Hebrew, the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and much more. She was supposed to move to Tel Aviv in January, to start an internship with Israel’s ambulance corps. Shew was doing a gap year program where one group started in Jerusalem taking classes, while another one group was in Tel Aviv doing internships. The plan was for them to then switch in the middle of the year. 

On the morning of Saturday, October 7, Maddy, along with the other half of the group, was visiting the very northern city of Tsvat. The situation worsened throughout the day as the Hamas terrorist group infiltrated Kibbutzim near the Gaza border, kidnapped hostages and took them back into Gaza. Those who had brought Israel to Tsvat made the executive decision that it was better for them to evacuate Tsvat by bus, and return to their home cities. 

It was only our coach bus, and open road, which we feared could be bombed at any second. Nobody slept on that bus ride. Nobody listened to music.

— Maddy Israel '23

She said, “Though the idea of sitting on a bus for three hours terrified me, I agreed wholeheartedly with my program’s decision.” They boarded the bus and as they drove down in Central Israel, the streets were deserted. She said, “It was only our coach bus, and open road, which we feared could be bombed at any second. Nobody slept on that bus ride. Nobody listened to music.” She eventually reunited with her cousin, Sam, and the other groups on the program. 

Two days later, On October 9, she woke up at 11 a.m. in Jerusalem. Maddy recounted how she had walked outside to talk to her friends, when suddenly, their teachers and counselors were yelling in their ears to run to the bomb shelter. Although the sirens were in a neighboring town, as a precaution, they all had to pile into the bomb shelter. 

Later that day, she was doing laundry with her roommates and, at around 5pm., the sirens went off in her area and it was for real this time. She ran to the bomb shelter in the laundry building, and as she sprinted downstairs they heard the Iron Dome defense system intercept rockets as they flew towards Jerusalem. She said, “That moment is ingrained in my mind. The boom of the rockets, and then the feeling of the ground shaking underneath me. The shuffling of feet. The loud, creaking sound of the heavy metal door of the bomb shelter.” 

She said she reluctantly left Israel on October 13 even after swearing she would never leave. She was wary of crossing the country, sitting in the Tel Aviv airport for hours, and then taking off into the air in a plane, but most of all, she wanted to stay in Israel. 

It had become her home over the past five weeks and she said, “I think there was also a little bit of denial – denial that everything had happened. I was convinced that everything would be over in a couple of days, that I would be back to my normal life, but I was very wrong.” 

It was very difficult for her to plan where to go because new information came out every hour. Her program announced that they would be taking every member of their Jerusalem section to a kibbutz on the way South. At first she wanted to work in the Kibbutz infirmary, and she said, “I felt that was a perfect way to help, in a way that I truly knew how to.” However, her parents feared that the four hour drive to the kibbutz held too many risks. 

Eventually, Maddy, her two friends and her cousin, Sam, decided not to go down to the kibbutz, and instead, booked a flight out of the country on October 13. The next day, they took a flight to Nice, France, at 6:30 a.m. In the airport, they went through a lot of questioning and security – more than she had ever experienced in her life. She said, “We were greeted by tons of people running around, waving Israeli flags and chanting “Am Yisrael Chai”, [the people of Israel live!] as soldiers from reserves flew in from across the world.”

I just wanted to be with people I love, in a country that I love. Now, that is incredibly uncertain.

— Maddy Israel '23

Maddy also received a long list of instructions from her dad, so she wouldn’t be a target for potential hate crimes while traveling. She said, “He told me to take off my Jewish jewelry, rip off the tags that said I came from Israel and refrain from talking about Israel or Judaism.” From France, they flew to Madrid, and met up with a group of friends, including two of her roommates from the program in Israel, Isi and Talia.

For months and months, her plan had been to go to Israel, and to stay there for the whole year. She said, “I just wanted to be with people I love, in a country that I love. Now, that is incredibly uncertain.” 

Her life looks completely different now than it did a week and a half ago. She said, “I am alive, my family is alive, and I am writing this from a safe space. So many were not as lucky as me, and I count my blessings every single day.”

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