Gilly Blais (Gillian Blais) is currently studying at Alexander Muss High School in Israel. She is a student at the American Hebrew Academy in Greensboro North Carolina.
This past summer Gilly has recorded a heartfelt tribute to the Israeli soldiers fallen as a result of the Operation Protective Edge:
We sat down with Gilly because we were curious about her passion for Israel and singing, as well as her experiences prior, during and after AMHSI.
Q: We would like to hear more about your passion for singing. How long have you been singing for?
A: I’ve basically been singing my entire life, and I kept that pretty private up until my sophomore year of high school, which was when I told my parents. They didn’t even hear me sing live until this summer. It was a hobby of mine and a stress reliever, so I didn’t feel it was necessary to share, until only a few years ago.
Q: Since your parents have heard you sing, what do they think?
A: They’re very supportive. It is such a big thing now, especially when someone comes to our house. A plumber could be at our house, and my mom will blast a song of mine. She is so proud of me for pursuing my passion.
Q: What inspired your song, and why did you make the music video?
A: The war, Protective Edge, started this summer between Israel and Gaza, which was the starting point of me making the video. I also have a lot of friends in Israel, especially one girl who stayed at my house this summer. She was working at a summer camp in my community, and one of her close friend was killed. She couldn’t go to the funeral, being so far away, and I wondered to myself what I could do. Making this song was a way for me to vent and express how I felt.
Q: What has been the highlight so far about AMHSI?
A: Without a doubt Jerusalem has been the highlight so far. We hiked Sataf, which is just outside of Jerusalem, and we also went into a cave and we all turned off our flashlights and we were holding hands and were singing songs at the top of our lunges. I considered that a very moving experience. Being in the classroom and learning about specific places in Jerusalem and the history, then going to Jerusalem and actually seeing what the teacher was discussing was amazing and inspiring.
Q: Is this your first time in Israel?
A: No, this is not my first time in Israel, I have been here three times before.
Q: If you plan on going to college, where would you like to go?
A: I am leaning towards the University of Virginia, but have also been considering making Aliyah. Israel has been such an important part of my life; I feel it’s only right to make Aliyah.
Q: What would you consider majoring in if you attend college?
A: I’d probably major in International Relations, with Israel being the main country of focus.