Shalom from Onward Israel

July 20, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Posted in Stories from Israel | Leave a comment
Onward, Interns!

Clevelanders joined a gleaning project and picked over 2,400 onions, that will be able to feed over 400 hungry families.

Clevelanders are having some amazing experiences as part of their Onward Israel summer internship program! They are engaged in cultural immersion projects and volunteer opportunities, and building their professional resumes with a wide range of work placements. Below are two powerful testimonials from current participants – find out how Onward can be a life-changer! You can also find out more about the many different options for young people to connect to Israel.

Mark Beytas’ story

Hi, my name is Mark Beytas.  Last year I graduated with my Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering from Johns Hopkins University, and just recently I graduated with my Master in Management Studies from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.  I’m from Cleveland and I feel privileged to be part of the first Onward Israel program.  During my time in Tel Aviv, I have been doing a business development internship at Chaos Films.

Originally I pursued this program to reconnect with Israeli society and learn more about Israel’s entrepreneurial spirit.  After a few weeks into the program, I realized that Israel’s entrepreneurial spirit can be embedded in the country’s strive for a quality life and the Jewish value of Tikkun Olam to make the world a better place with a conscious effort.  With plenty of social issues, from defining and defending a Jewish state and people to dealing with refugees and social inequalities between the country’s ethnic communities, achieving peace and sharing happy moments with friends and family seems much more precious in Israel.

I saw this value earlier this week when my younger brother visited me after his Taglit trip.  I was to go to work at Chaos at 10:00 AM, and was having breakfast with him in the Dizengoff Mall and helping him get ready to leave Tel Aviv.  I wanted to spend time with him, but was worried that work would have to come first.  I called my boss, and after I told him that I may be late, he told me not to worry and spend time with my brother.   I spent the rest of the day with my brother until I took him to the train station, and we both had a great day.

Coming from a culture in the US that may place work over loved ones and health, the wonder I have seen in Israel is that pursuing a fulfilling life means leaving no or little room for regret.  This to me has meant making time for one’s loved ones and overall health and happiness in the midst of striving for success.

Lehitraot
Mark

Amanda Leb’s Story

Hi, my name is Amanda Leb and I am a Senior at Washington University in St. Louis majoring in International Studies and minoring in Public Health and Psychology.  This summer, I was fortunate enough to be a part of the Onward Israel program. This seven-week internship program in Israel provides participants an internship in their field of interest, as well as in depth programming twice a week on social justice issues throughout the Jewish state.
The phrase “life changing” has evolved into such a colloquial wording and as a result, has lost the intensity and sincerity of its meaning, but no other phrase could describe my experience here thus far; my internship is at the African Refugee Clinic in South Tel Aviv. The refugees are a highly debated topic throughout Israel because the majority of them are not Jewish, and as a result, it is nearly impossible for them to attain citizenship or basic public welfare.  The clinic is staffed completely by doctors, nurses, and medical students who volunteer their time and resources.  Having learned further about the immense controversy and politicized nature surrounding the refugees, I was struck by the staffs’ ability to pursue the Jewish value of tikkun olam, regardless of state’s policy. Previously, I had wanted to pursue a career in public health administration, but that soon changed after spending more time at the clinic.  To have what I had learned in my public health, international relations, and health ethics classes right before my eyes is an indescribable experience.  I am not medically trained, yet on a regular basis I decide the medical fate of these individuals who have escaped unspeakable hardships. It was an uncomfortable power to be making decisions of this gravity and yet, it was an overwhelming powerlessness in my inability to provide them with adequate care.  This experience has altered my initial career path and has inspired me to pursue a clinical degree as a nurse practitioner in order to provide direct care to patients.
I wish I could stay here more, but than again, I’m looking forward to go back home and start turning this dream into a reality,

Yours,
Amanda

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