Onward Inspired: Danielle Margiotta
Danielle grew up in Montville, New Jersey. The middle daughter of two computer science majors, Danielle chose to major in studio art. “This was way out of my family’s comfort zone,” says Danielle laughing.
During her sophomore year, and upon her brother Derek’s graduation from college (finance major), the two siblings decided to do a “last hurrah” together and go on a Birthright program. It was their first time traveling outside the US.
Despite growing up in a family with a “spiritual and traditional sense of Judaism”, Danielle was “blown away” by Israel. “It was such a new and different experience seeing Israel for the first time,” says Danielle.
“I loved the real sense of community and connection between people, the country’s natural beauty and the history that was everywhere,” she continues.
When Danielle graduated college in 2017 she knew that she needed to find a job and begin to pay off her student loans. She also knew that she wanted desperately to return to Israel.
“Despite my pressure to begin working, I took a huge leap and decided to do Onward Israel,” explains Danielle. “It combined everything – an internship that would give me real work experience and returning to Israel to live for two months, not as a tourist.”
Danielle signed up for Onward’s theme-based Arts and Culture program. She was placed in a Jerusalem internship working for the emerging Jerusalem Biennale, which aims to make Jerusalem a center in the art world for contemporary Jewish art.
“I wanted to see how I could use and grow my skills,” says Danielle. “Working with the Jerusalem Biennale was amazing. I was one of their first interns, so I got a lot of responsibility. I contacted artists to exhibit, maintained the website and social media, and helped to connect to partners and raise funds,” says Danielle.
Her internship was so successful that she was asked to continue her work, as a paid employee, for an extra two months leading up to the Biennale’s major exhibition.
“Through Onward I lived liked an Israeli in Israel. I saw a much more diverse, multi-cultural side of Israel and I made friends for a lifetime. I am still in touch with all my roommates,” says Danielle.
When Danielle returned to New Jersey, she began her job search. She found a position working with Artists 4 Israel, which heals communities and people affected by conflict through the transformative power of art. This went hand-in-hand with the experience Danielle had gained in Jerusalem.
“I love the work I am doing now, and so pleased with my decision to go on Onward. I fell in love with Jerusalem, with Israelis and with Israel and gained a lot of professional awareness,” says Danielle. “I am always thinking about when I will return.”