A group of students from Israel got the Royal treatment last week when they visited Hopkins High School.
On March 22, students from Rehovot, Israel, which is about 20 miles south of Tel Aviv, came to Hopkins as part of a cultural exchange partnership. This is the third time students from Israel have visited Hopkins. AP social studies teacher Rick Rexroth has cultivated a partnership through the help of local organizations, including the Jewish Day School and the National Council of Jewish Women.
“The cultural exchanges are amazing,” Rexroth said. “Cultural exchanges are something that I wish every student could experience. Seeing others and learning about them directly does so much more than any classroom experience could ever do.”
As students toured Hopkins High School, they often commented on the sheer size of the building and how “nice” everything was. Rexroth said it made him appreciate the space and hoped students realize the opportunities they are afforded at Hopkins. Teachers also opened their doors, including English teacher Douglas Dart. In his classroom, the teens joined together at tables to talk with one another, comparing and contrasting their respective experiences.
One topic that sparked a lot of conversation was mandatory military service. In Israel, once women and men turn 18 they must enter the military. Men serve for three years while women serve for two. Students said this opportunity is one accepted proudly, as it offers them the chance to experience other people and viewpoints, and enhances their skill set.
The Israeli students also toured the high school, checking out the band room, computer labs, and watching students interact during passing time.
“The high school is a lot bigger and there are more students,” said Amit Lon, a 16-year-old junior. “And the technology here is amazing, if I were student here I’d be really excited about that. We have some technology, but you guys have entire rooms. That’s really cool.”
Students also talked about what courses they like to study and the difference between “majors” and electives.
“There is variety in the courses here, there are so many choices,” said 17-year-old Yuval Avrahami. “In Israel, we have two majors, like courses of study. And we don’t have as many options or as many opportunities to take more artistic courses.”
With Hopkins’ diverse student population, Rexroth said the environment is a perfect incubator to foster dynamic conversations. He said he expects this partnership to grow, and wants to offer more cultural exchanges like this in the future.
“The diverse community is ready-made for cultural exchanges,” Rexroth added. “Hopkins students have learned that there are differences in the world. And they react not with fear or criticism, but with engagement and embracement.”