Camp Tawonga has welcomed staff from all over the world this summer to join our international family – from Israel and the UK to Canada, Costa Rica and even Fiji! These voices enrich and support our multicultural community at Camp. Part of this global staff family includes our mishlachat (delegates) from Israel, bringing Israeli culture and traditions a little closer to Camp.
Below, check out spotlights Asaf, Big Fiji and Lia: some of our all-staff representatives of our international staff this summer.
As an international staff member, what is something unique you bring to Tawonga?
Asaf: The Hebrew accent, obviously…and the mentality in Israel where we are very straightforward. It’s a different kind of way to behave and communicate with people. Kids will even try to speak to me in Hebrew and ask questions about the language!
Also here you feel so safe and secure so you don’t necessarily think about in a few years I’m going to need to serve my country and take care of it because it’s my turn now. This is a camp about Judaism, community and acceptance but the country of the Jews is struggling to find peace. I think I shed some light on this for children.
Lia: Socially, the connections I make with people is different than I would have with people in my native state. We obviously bring the perspective of things that happen in Israel. I meet so many counselors, staff members and campers that have so many questions about Israel, and I’m happy to be here to answer them. I feel proud to represent a place that’s so important to people at Camp.
Fiji: I bring a lot of “island chill” I think. I find in Western countries, I’ve lived in New Zealand for a significant amount of time, and now I’ve been in the states for a while – sometimes I feel like you all live your lives in a rush. Coming from the islands, there’s something called “island time.” If you make an appointment for 10 o’clock, you usually show up at 12 o’clock. I think if you ask anyone, they’d say I’m probably the chillest person here. “Fiji, how are you doing today?” Chill… “Fiji, what are you doing on your day off?” Chilling… “Fiji, how do you take your coffee?” Chilled…
What inspires you to work at Camp Tawonga?
Asaf: Tawonga’s will is to make everyone feel confident and to truly love and improve themselves. A lot of the time camps have these catchphrases and philosophies that sound nice but at Tawonga it doesn’t just sound nice, it’s actually what it is. I feel much better about myself being here, and I hope the kids feel it too.
Lia: When I was here five or six years ago, I literally fell in love with this place and the community. You feel like you can be whoever you want. You can express yourself in so many more ways than I would back home. I feel much more open, sometimes out of my comfort zone. I just feel like it changed me and it made me really want to come back.
Fiji: When I was in high school, I entered a speech competition. I found this speech three or four years ago and one of the things I wrote was, when I grow up, I want to be a role model to the younger generation of Pacific Islanders or kids. Having the ability to work on the challenge course and having watched kids come in as a seedling and leave as a blossomed flower is how I like to think of it. They’re shy, not sure if they can do a certain element and then finding that they slowly get into it and excel. For me, it’s spiritually fulfilling.
What are some Tawonga values that you will take back with you to your community?
Asaf: I want to take this “super” positivity back home. Even if you lost in a game, you’re not out, you’re awesome! It’s important to find the good in everything you do, even if it’s in this one silly game.
Lia: I had a lot of issues as a teenager with body image, and Camp helped me a lot with this. I never thought I would feel this comfortable in my own body, and here, I feel so comfortable with myself. I want to continue to appreciate people for who they are rather than the way they look.
Fiji: I want to continue to accept everyone for who they are and who they want to be. I come from a very conservative country where the Fijian values are very old school, whereas here it’s all-inclusive. I would like to take my Tawongan village and my Fijian village and have them be one big village – this is the perfect family.
Tawonga is so lucky to have such dedicated and loving staff members in Asaf, Lia and Fiji – and in our entire international staff community – who are so kind to share who they are with our community.
Session III Gallery
Below are photos from today’s Livnot taken by one of our amazing office staff members, Hazel! Later tonight, stay tuned for some bunk photos and from more activities around Camp.