Throughout the history of the volunteer program at Magdala, the majority of volunteers come from other countries to share their time and talents in Israel. However, during the week of November 8, Magdala was swarming morning, noon, and night with a group of 87 15-year-olds who camped on Magdala’s grounds, accompanied by six teachers, three chaperones, and two dogs.
For many of these high school students, this was their second volunteer experience at Magdala. When presented with the opportunity to come again, they couldn’t wait! Throughout the week, they engaged in countless activities, starting with setting up camp and getting a thorough tour of the site given by Dina Avshalom-Gorni, one of the archaeologists in charge of excavations at Magdala. They dug in the market and the port, conducted many teambuilding activities, had classes on geography and culture, and hiked the nearby trails. On their final night, they had a special drum session, where they learned songs and drum beats from many different nations.
This group’s presence at the site represented the fulfillment of one of the project’s greatest purposes: to highlight Magdala as a crossroads of Jewish and Christian history. The Magdala staff was thrilled to host these local high school students for dialogue and sharing. Just as the students were immersing themselves in the history and archaeological discoveries of the first-century Jewish town, they were also at Magdala to learn about and from the community of priests, consecrated women, and volunteers involved in the project. They enjoyed a tour of Duc In Altum led by Father Timothy and including a special presentation in the Women’s Atrium about the dignity of women.
All of the volunteers, both Israeli and foreign, were able to work towards the same purpose of bringing first-century Magdala to light, and making it a place where all are welcome to visit, share, and learn from one another.