I am now going to address the elephant that’s obviously in the room since I know some of you reading this blog are curious. Yes I watch the news (however ill reported it sometimes may be) and I am aware of the situation in Israel right now. I am hopeful; things seem to be calming down as this truce lasted for more than 2 hours. I definitely am not going to get into any political, social, or religious beliefs since I don’t want my blog to turn into a CNN special report or the host of international debates. All I’m going to say is I speak to my brother as well as a close friend, both of whom live in Tel Aviv almost every day. According to them life is exactly the same with the exception of a siren or two once a day. I know the same cannot be said for other parts of the region, but I am going to be centrally located in Israel. I also understand this isn’t a situation to take lightly, but it definitely does not seem like cause to miss out on an extraordinary opportunity to teach overseas for a year. So to answer all of your questions. Yes I’m still going to Israel. And no I’m not scared.
I guess I should also explain a little bit about this program I am participating in. Israel Teaching Fellows (ITF for short) is a ten month program that places college graduates in cities throughout Israel with the goal of teaching English in local schools. You don’t have to be American to participate, I believe there are people this year from Canada and England (but don’t quote me if I’m wrong). Basically you have to be a Jewish, English speaking, college graduate, who does not have Israeli citizenship and has not spent a long period of time in Israel on another organized program. Oh and of course you have to have the desire to impact young lives while at the same time possessing a thirst for adventure. ITF places its Fellows in schools throughout the country in the hopes of closing the achievement gap prevalent in many Israeli schools. There are different sub organizations that run ITF in 8 cities and youth villages throughout the country. You can check out the website and all the different cities here. All the programs are the under the umbrella of Masa Israel, a non profit organization that runs year long, monthly, and weekly programs for young Jews in Israel.
I’m going to be in Rishon LeZion, the closest city to Tel Aviv the program offers and my main reason for picking it. Although I am sure I will grow to love Rishon as it is a bustling city in itself, who wouldn’t want to go to Tel Aviv as much as possible? I cannot claim that I found this program myself. My brother, 2 years older than me, has always been the more adventurous of the two. While I spent my summers at a sleep away camp a few hours from our home, Ben traveled the world, spending summers in France, Chile, Germany; and did I mention he went to school in Montreal? It was no surprise to me that after he finished undergrad he was going to spend a year overseas teaching English in Israel. And I wasn’t even shocked when he decided to stay an extra year in Tel Aviv to complete his Masters at Tel Aviv University (in foreign security or policy something like that I always forget). Anyway what was a shock to me was my desire to follow in his footsteps. I had always seen myself getting a job in New York City and staying close to home once I finished with school. But as it turns out, and as I mentioned in my previous blog, that’s exactly what I didn’t want. I feel like I have sort of an advantage going into the program having a brother as an alumnus (yes that’s the singlular form of alumni, weird I know). He already sent me a list of buses I’ll have to take to get around, restaurants to eat at, and stores in the city that sell everything from drying racks to winter coats. Unfortunately Ben will not be in Israel while I’m there. We overlap for about a week during which my dad, brother, and I will be traveling the country before my program starts. Once they drop my off, they are both headed back to America. My dad is flying over with one kid, flying back the other. A sort of swap. So it’s off to Israel I go and I couldn’t be more excited.
More to come as I start the dreaded experience of packing!