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Lam, from Vietnam, grew up never having experienced war. She learned about the Vietnam War from history books. One of her GHIS teachers told her that he wants the children of Israel to have the same experience–and that he is hopeful, inspired even, that it can happen here, in Israel–that there can be peace in a post-war Israel, as there is in a post-war Vietnam.

Currently: Lam is a freshman in a dual-degree program between Tel Aviv University and Columbia University, spending the first two years in Tel Aviv majoring in Psychology and minoring in Middle East Studies. Once she gets to New York, she plans on majoring in Computer Science, where she has an interest in AI and machine learning.

Learning about a place from experience: Lam was curious, after meeting a GHIS student from Vietnam, who told her about her wonderful experience and how supportive the community was. Lam wanted to see for herself, “that Israel is more than terrorism and the things that are portrayed in the news.” And indeed, she has come to know that Israel is so much more than we generally hear about it–and that “the people I have met have been amazing!” 

Friends-for-life: Lam is grateful that she went to GHIS since the “people there are amazing and broad-minded. Everyone there was open-minded. They all come from different backgrounds, but they didn’t focus on the differences, they saw each other as friends. GHIS did a great job in bringing together a diverse group of students.” 

Thinking of goals: In the short-term, along with her studies, Lam hopes to continue exploring Israel and the Middle East, interning and volunteering as a humanitarian worker. In the long-term, she envisions returning to Vietnam and working toward a community-based goal as a social entrepreneur or at an international organization, bringing back to her country what she learned from her studies and travels. 

The power of the interview: In her first GHIS interview, she was already made to feel that this is the place for her. Lam says, “I was made to believe in myself and in the values that GHIS conveys. I was excited before I got there.” 

The GHIS impact: Lam has three takeaways from her experience at GHIS, but overall, she says that she wouldn’t be the person she is without having attended GHIS. She talks about the amazing friends she met from Israel and the world. From them, she realized that “even though we are geographically and culturally  different, we are all really similar.”

She saw how political and social issues impacted her Israeli friends, as well as those from other conflict zones. This helped her crystallize the idea that she wants to contribute to the world through her values and her humanity, which have been informed by her experiences. 

Not to forget that GHIS is a school, she is pleased with how much the IB prepared her for college and as a person. She credits it with strengthening her critical thinking and researching skills. She feels prepared compared to her peers, and has confidence in her abilities, including her ability to construct balanced arguments and to manage her time. Very important skills for university success!

Thankful for her teachers: Unlike in Vietnam where classes are formal, she found the teachers at GHIS to be supportive and that they got to know each student and how to support and encourage them. 

Finding a voice: Lam appreciated that there were many opportunities for students to provide input for improving the school, especially since it was so new when she started. She talks about the principal taking their requests seriously and then taking action based on that input. For her, it was powerful to see, since she was not used to students getting to speak up and present their ideas. 

Field trips: Through many field trips, through school and with her host family, to historical and political sites as well as to nature, Lam felt that GHIS opened her mind and made her feel at home in Israel, appreciating the friendliness of the Israelis she met. 

Summing up 2 years at GHIS: “It was a life-changing!” She goes on to say that it developed her into the person she is today, changing how she experiences the world and sees herself. What’s more, it helped her identify her career goals and envision herself in the future. She developed strong values, made life-long friends, and became part of a strong support system. 

Lams ends by saying, “I’m grateful for all the experiences I had at GHIS.”

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Yaniv Sagee


yaniv sagee

For more than seven decades, Givat Haviva has provided educational programs aimed at developing a just, equal, and inclusive society. In 2018, we created GHIS as an educational incubator to develop leaders for the future of our world, the Middle East, and Israel—to help move from competition and struggle between nations to a shared, egalitarian society that operates in peace.

GHIS students study the complexity of global conflicts, the differences, and the similarities between them. They learn that individual identity can exist while accepting the identity of the other, and that conflict can be transcended through greater mutual understanding.

Our school draws on the insights of the IB program and the experience of our students from around the world, and supplements it with conflict resolution knowledge accumulated over more than 70 years in Givat Haviva. With this formula a responsible cohort of young people is being created that will one day lead our shared society.

As CEO of Givat Haviva from 2012-2021, Yaniv was one of Israel’s primary leaders of shared society. In this role he created programs that promote these values and educate as many citizens as possible to the benefits of working together.

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Our spirit remains, but our brand has evolved.
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David Zehavi

Hebrew Literature

David joined GHIS because he was looking for the right educational establishment to develop personally and professionally. As soon as he heard about GHIS, he realized that it suits his values.

“As someone who has always been committed to coexistence in Israel, I see GHIS as a great vehicle to bring young people together in an accepting and non-prejudicial way.”

As well as being a teacher, David is also trained in special needs education at all school levels.

David holds a joint Honors B.Ed.  in Special Education ages 6 to 21, and BA in Literature at Oranim College