Julia B. – Boston Haifa, Summer 2018
“I jetted off this summer to Israel in pursuit of excitement, independence, and challenge. After completing my sophomore year as a Biology student at Amherst College, I relished the opportunity to step outside my western Massachusetts bubble and to immerse myself in a totally new environment. Onward has afforded me the ability to learn about Israel—its culture and customs, its food and its feuds—first-hand, through experience and engagement.
I am interning for Prof. Tami Katzir at the Edmond J. Safra Brain Research Center for the Study of Learning Disabilities at the University of Haifa, studying moral development, anxiety, ADHD, and reading comprehension. At work, I’ve been exposed to a completely new field of academic research, learning about the intersection of psychology, education, and statistics. Watching my coworkers’ dedication has reignited my own love of learning. My coworkers’ passion for cultivating engaging and effective learning environments for all children fills me with hope for future students and gratitude towards my own teachers and educational opportunities.
Because we largely study reading development in native Hebrew speakers, I have also gotten a unique perspective on the Israeli education system and the distinctive challenges that it faces from my coworkers and mentors. I treasure these personal connections, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to learn about the country from its citizens. I have been able to stay overnight with a Druze family, tour a pluralistic Jewish Kibbutz, and learn about the medical care system by shadowing a doctor at Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba.
I set out this summer, in part, to discover what matters to me: What type of work excites me? What brings me joy? What am I willing to fight for? I don’t know that I have any answers yet, and I’m not sure that I’ll necessarily find them in the time that I have left on Onward, but after having spent a month in Israel, that uncertainty doesn’t seem to bother me so much as it did before. Meeting new people, navigating through unknown cities, and living independently have given me a newfound sense of confidence and autonomy. Adapting to a new country has challenged me to break routine, to explore, to question, to listen attentively. I hope to hold onto this Israeli spirit of adventure, curiosity, and camaraderie as I continue to develop my own identity and to learn about the world around me.”