By Catherine Green
Leave home and become a YouTube star? Sounds like a teen’s dream. It happened to Julieta Guzman.
At the age of 14, she started on the adventure of her life at Naale Elite Academy and welcomed the world to join her high school experience in Israel via YouTube.
“I love to travel and try new things. I love meeting people from different places, with different life experiences and points of view – so when I heard about Naale I knew I had to go. Within 24 hours of hearing about their high school program in Israel, I had filled out and sent in my application. That’s how sure I was that the program would be perfect for me,” she said.
It was going to Naale that inspired her to start her journey on YouTube. “After meeting some of my future classmates at the screening day in my area, I thought that starting a YouTube channel was a great way to share my experience with friends back home and reach new teenagers who might be interested in the things I love too like traveling, yoga, veganism and having a good time with friends at boarding school,” she said.
It turns out that Guzman was right. For the past four years, her videos and channel have reached thousands of viewers and have even influenced other Jewish teens to follow in her footsteps.
“Last year, two girls from my school came over to me to tell me that they were the reason they signed up for Naale’s Mosenson program,” she said. “It was surreal. I hope they’ll have as good of an experience as I have. I didn’t expect to influence others to come, but I do think it’s a great experience for anyone who is open to it.”
Run in conjunction with the Jewish Agency, Naale Elite Academy brings teens from all around the world to Israel to complete their high school education on a full scholarship. Guzman has taken advantage of meeting teens from around the world during her years at Naale’s Mosenson program.
“I’ve built amazing friendships, met incredible people and have really gotten to know about other cultures, not only from spending time with them, but I’ve actually gone back with friends when they go visit their families. Last year, I went to Italy with a friend I met at school, and I recently went to Barcelona for Chanukah vacation with another friend,” she said. Guzman has documented her international trips for her friends, family and followers.
When it comes to on-campus life, Guzman is equally excited. “Classes are amazing, the subjects interest me and the teachers encourage us to be better people – inside and outside the classroom. I’ve been here for four years now. I stayed because I love my life here. I won’t say there aren’t challenges- there are. But at the end, even if it takes a while to get used to, it all works out and life here is good. I live with my two best friends, made incredible connections, gotten to travel to places with people native to the countries I visited and so much more! I would never have been exposed to all these people and places had I stayed back in Canada for high school.”