The Summer Swivel Series highlights different teens’ changed plans for the summer of 2020. Follow along as we hear from teens from the Greater Boston area who are making the most of their new summer adventures.

2020 was going to be one of my best years yet. I was just a few weeks short of starting my second semester by attending Alexander Muss High School In Israel. For months prior to my trip, my mom would share with me many stories about her experience in Israel. Spending seven weeks in Israel truly had changed my life. I was the happiest I had been the whole year and was learning so many new things about myself, Israel, current events and history.

When the news broke that our semester had to end because of COVID-19, chaos broke out. I found myself deeply saddened and disappointed that I had to leave. While back in Boston, I was sulking constantly and reminiscing on all the experiences I had in Israel. It felt like there was nothing more to look forward to as summer plans continued to get canceled. I had planned to travel to South America with my camp friends on a teen tour.

As COVID-19 got worse, I found that the only thing to look forward to was my next meal. However, I was able to push myself off my feet and use the time in quarantine to my advantage. One of the first things I did was go on a health kick. To many, this may seem common, but I incorporated new habits into my lifestyle permanently and also discovered more things about myself through my journey. Secondly, while racial injustices and protests occurred, I found time to educate myself through JTI opportunities, such as the low-key convo on this topic. It was so comforting to have an outlet and source of connection with my peers through this challenging time. 

One of the biggest things a COVID-19 summer has given me is the chance to be creative and independent. I have made infinite variations of avocado toast, tried many different workouts and have definitely mastered my omelette game. While reflecting on how my 2020 has completely flipped upside down, I try to remember one amazing memory I enjoyed while in Israel.

When my group traveled to Tzfat, we visited with a man named Abraham. He taught us the subject of Kabbalah, or the mystical studies of Judaism. One of the major takeaways I learned from his teachings is the fact that everything happens for a reason. In the times that I felt the saddest these past few months, I tried to remember Abraham’s words to push me back up. Although COVID-19 cut my semester in Israel short, it gave me time to push myself out of my comfort zone and try new things. I use the new skills I have learned throughout quarantine daily to help remind myself of the new person I have become.

Sophie Backer is a rising junior at Weston High School. She is a member of the lacrosse and swim teams during the school year and will be serving as a Senior Inclusion Fellow with JTI this year. She loves to be active and spend time with her dogs.

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