Basak, from Turkey, says that coming to GHIS was a big–we say, brave–step for her. This young Muslim woman was the only student from Turkey in Israel the year she arrived! She came to Israel because it, too, suffers from intercommunal violence. Rather than accept it, she wanted to understand its impact and how it is dealt with in Israel, so she can help change things back home. 

A key insight she gained at GHIS was how important it is to respect and listen to everyone’s opinions, as well as to learn why they hold those views. Back home, they were neither taught conflicting opinions or information, nor were they discussed. She says that GHIS opened her up to seeing the world through her classmates’ experiences and empathizing with them.

Currently: Basak is studying Politics and Government at Sciences Po, France, in the first part of a dual-BA program. For the second half, she’s onto Columbia University in New York, where she’s thinking of adding Economics as a second major.

Powerful GHIS experience:  At GHIS, students from both sides of different conflicts share classrooms and dorm rooms, which means that they may hear about “their conflict” from radically differing perspectives. In workshops and classroom discussions, they may represent their own country, a different country, or even the opposing side of their home conflict. This powerful learning experience means that they truly consider each other’s pain and history. 

The first time that Basak met an Armenian, they were uncomfortable that she was from Turkey. But guided by their teacher, they confronted this by talking about what they knew from back home, and eventually becoming each other’s supporters instead of opponents. In a powerful teaching and learning experience, they presented a history of their conflict to the school community, showing how speaking openly and respectfully really can bring about change, one person at a time. 

Because of GHIS’s safe environment, Basak came to see that a different future can only happen once everyone’s perspective is understood and valued. 

Why GHIS: She came to GHIS because she wanted to step outside of her comfort zone and the homogeneity of her school in Turkey. She was curious to live in an international environment where she could meet people who didn’t share the same ideas as her and those she was accustomed to. She certainly did this by coming to Israel, which ended up feeling like home! 

Where’s she headed: For a young woman interested in politics and international relations, it seems natural for her to want to serve her country in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. But that’s after getting more international experience at NGOs or international organizations. It certainly sounds like GHIS was the right place for her to begin her journey. At GHIS, we believe that one day she will be the mayor of Istanbul or even the president of Turkey!

Safe GHIS environment: Basak observed that the environment on campus meant that Jews and Arabs from Israel could live and learn together. It wasn’t until after a semester at GHIS that she understood that that was not the norm outside of campus. GHIS hopes that this becomes the new norm in Israel! 

Feeling at home with her host family: Basak’s host family were local Muslims, who are very different from people she knew back home in Turkey. Yet, she became part of their family. With them, she saw how different people lived in Israel, as well as how they celebrated weddings–always with great food! 

David Zehavi

Hebrew Literature

David joined GHIS because he was looking for the right educational establishment to develop personally and professionally. As soon as he heard about GHIS, he realized that it suits his values.

“As someone who has always been committed to coexistence in Israel, I see GHIS as a great vehicle to bring young people together in an accepting and non-prejudicial way.”

As well as being a teacher, David is also trained in special needs education at all school levels.

David holds a joint Honors B.Ed.  in Special Education ages 6 to 21, and BA in Literature at Oranim College