Netzach is in the bottom right corner of the map!
Ran making friends with a baby goat (Photo Cred: Me)
When my Summer 2014 Birthright trip thinks of Ran, they probably think that I'm picking him for endurance squared because of his workouts, his all-meat diets, or his ability to run around Masada without losing his breath. (Ran's nodding his head now). That's only part of his ability to endure. When meeting Ran this summer (Shiran and I hadn't had an opportunity to Skype with him beforehand), we were thrown into a whirlwind experience of trying to balance our expectations with Ran's talent, educational goals, and crazy sense of humor. He had to endure our desires and defenses of our students (WEAR YOUR HATS PEOPLE), our ability to get into fights with hotel staff when his back was turned, and our playing keep-away with green Laffy Taffys.
Birthright isn't an easy thing to staff; it's a challenge to juggle forty-eight personalities in two-three different languages and then figure out a good structure for our bus driver, his madrichim, and our "guard." But Ran endured constantly, utilizing a good sense of humor, a loud voice, and an ability to adapt when Shiran and I approached him directly and openly. He recognized that sometimes the best way to meet our daily educational goals was to find a decent measure of fun and function, of education and exploration, of open debate and operational definitions of what Israel was to everyone involved.
Blurry, but we were all cracking up laughing (Soldier's program) (Photo Cred: Me)
Ran endured during a drastically overscheduled program for our particular trip, including three nights out and a Mega-event that tested even the most patient of us (not particularly any one of our greatest virtues). He took care of logistics, defended his staff and his students, created a warm and welcoming environment, and did it all in 100 degree weather (yikes). During my winter trip, when I faced some adversity of my own, he talked me through my own problems with a smile, a laugh, and a reminder that it was okay to sit down and relax once in a while.
While I don't get to head to Israel with him this summer (hey, I tried!), I know that any trip that goes with him is going to get a strong, charismatic, and enduring tour educator, mentor, and friend. And if all else fails, don't worry...he can always catch a nap on the bus.
Caught napping on the job! (Photo Cred: Shiran!)
Personal note to Ran: Thank you for everything. (You know what you've done).