Students around the world are asked the inevitable question, “What did you do on your summer vacation?”
Reaam Mawasey, 16, and her brother, Bian Mawasey, 14, have interesting stories and lots of photos of their visit to Canada. The pair, from Faradis, north of Tel Aviv, Israel, spent most of the summer visiting with family friends Mineo Tanaka and Dalia Gottlieb-Tanaka in Vernon and Vancouver.
Reaam had been on a school trip to England but her brother had not been far away from home. Together they made the trip from Tel Aviv to Frankfurt, changed planes, then on to Calgary and Kelowna.
“We did so much,” said Reaam. “It was all an adventure and everything was so different. I love the lakes, we went to Mabel Lake, Okanagan Lake, Kal Lake and to Silver Star Mountain. The mountains are beautiful. There is something so beautiful about the way the clouds float down between the mountains. I will always remember the sky here.”
While B.C. has had some hot days this summer, it didn’t bother the visitors. Temperatures in Israel this time of year would consistently be about 45 degrees C.
Bian was busy taking pictures of anything to do with logging and lumber for his father and photos of cars for his own interest.
“I saw a Lamborghini in Vancouver and a Jaguar, Camaro and Ford Mustang and some antique collector cars in Merritt,” he said.
They arrived in Vernon the end of June and did a lot the first two weeks, including going to a drive-in theatre, one of many firsts.
“That was really fun,” said Reaam.
With some planning, they were able to observe Muslim dietary requirements and enjoy Canadian food, including Okanagan fruit and vegetables.
Bian liked the fish and chips he tried for the first time and Reaam said she gained weight.
“I like the blueberries and dim sum and Nutella and everything. My favourite restaurant in Vernon is Asian Avenue,” she said.
They also spent some time at English classes at Vernon and District Immigrant Services Society, where they met students from Japan and China.
The time spent in Vancouver brought more new adventures — a view of the city from Cypress Bowl, a hike on the Capilano Trail, a visit to Cleveland Dam, a walk on the Lynn Valley suspension bridge, a ride on the SkyTrain, and the fireworks at English Bay.
“There were such huge trees,” noted Bian, who was happy to find video games much more reasonably priced than at home.
Shopping is part of holidays and they both liked Dollarama and Aberdeen Centre in Richmond, where Reaam bought souvenir T-shirts.
Other activities included wall climbing and playing golf. There’s still water skiing to try.
A special surprise was a helicopter ride from Vancouver to Victoria where they met the Tanaka’s daughter, Carmel, and her friends, whom they knew from their visits to Israel. Carmel organized an outing on a sail boat with a picnic on a secluded island and other activities around Victoria.
Bian and Reaam attend an Arab school where they study Arabic, Hebrew and English but many Arab Israelis attend schools with both Arab and Jewish Israeli students. All students are eligible to apply to all universities with admission based on marks.
Reaam, who is on the national basketball team, is not sure what she wants to study but thinks it will be something working with children. She plans to come back to Canada someday as part of her hopes to travel all over the world. Bian has not decided on a future career but might do more with his talent for mechanics. At home, they keep busy with school, sports and friends, and music and youth culture around the world through social media. Reaam likes singing pop music and Bian would like to learn to play the guitar.
They kept in touch with family and friends during the trip and are going home with lots of souvenirs and gifts; Bian has a neck rest for the plane with the Canadian flag and Reaam has a cowboy hat.
Reaam and Bian go back to Israel Aug. 18 with many wonderful memories and some new friends. They are looking forward to being home. One of the first things they want to do, after a good rest and sharing their gifts, is to have some Arabic food. Then, in September, it’s back to school.