Not Just a Summer Internship Program - 07/17/2019
by Ilan Wagner
Certainly, the internship is at the heart of the Onward Israel Experience for most participants. But to say that Onward Israel is only an internship program is a bit reductionist. Last weekend for example nearly 700 participants took place in a wide variety of educational activities within the framework of Onward Israel’s unique participant centered and choice focused educational menu. 72 participants took part in our first ever Onward Israel Hackathon, in partnership with Impact Labs, working all night and into the wee hours of the morning in teams guided by mentors of Israeli start-ups whose products are geared to better the world. Onward participants developed code, used 3D printers to develop prototypes of products and built diagrams and flowcharts to solve business problems. Each group presented its work on Friday morning and received feedback from their mentors as well as sometimes tough questions from the audience (mostly from me actually J). Although all of the groups were impressive, I was most wowed by the group that had worked on an organic skin based bandage and had addressed the thorny issue of how to develop the product without its patent technology being reverse engineered and its market position being undercut. A fascinating combination of business, medicine and technology- aided by the unique combination of skill sets brought together by the Onward Israel
participants. Another 60 participants took part in the third installment of a new program we initiated this year – Shishi Tours- optional tours of key sites in Israel on Fridays based on advance sign-up. Tours have taken place so far to Masada and the Dead Sea, the Old City of Jerusalem and last week to Haifa and Acco. The Shishi Tour idea came out of suggestions from previous Onward cohorts and has proven to be very popular and well-attended. This week’s tour is a hike in the Judaean Hills. Last but not least, some 600 participants (1/4 of the overall summer participant base) attended a Shabbaton based on their choice this past weekend- including options as varied as Geo-Politics, Ecology, Pioneering, Spirituality and Mindfulness. And I would be remiss of course not to mention the mid-week Chug activities- a chance to have dinner with, mingle with, and then learn together with other Onward Israel participants from your city. Within the impressive lineup of chug options, we have heard especially good feedback about the Meet the Israelis session (a chance to talk to (speed dating set up) with a full spectrum of Israeli society in one room), film night and Hebrew learning opportunities. I want to thank all of the Onward Israel staff and all of our content partners who have made this wealth of activity possible and so rewarding for participants.