I made my first trip to Israel in May 2017 as a member of a cohort of M.B.A. students from Xavier University, which is located in Cincinnati, Ohio (my hometown!). My fellow students and I traveled to Israel as part of a course called Doing Business in Israel. With the help of their Israeli colleagues, our professors designed the course to be an introduction to the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of the “start-up nation.”
Before traveling to Israel, I couldn’t articulate what I expected from the country, the people, the experience, etc. I felt an expectation, but I could not describe that expectation. But what I found upon arrival in Tel Aviv was not what I expected. The city’s modernity, cosmopolitanism, and liberalism surprised me. And right away, I felt it. Israel’s ethos – its pull, its energy, its weight, its extremes, its contradictions, its sorrows, its joys.
We landed at 4:20 p.m. on Friday, May 19. By 10:00 p.m. that same day, I knew my life was going to change. I declared – out loud and to anyone who was listening – that I was never going to leave. I was going to move to Israel.
On May 22, we traveled to Jerusalem. We had the evening to ourselves, and I used this opportunity to visit my friend, Dr. Aviv Cohen. Aviv and I were classmates at Teachers College, Columbia University in New York City. Aviv finished his coursework for his degree at Teachers College, and then moved home to Israel to complete his dissertation in civic education. Today, Aviv is a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) at the Seymour Fox School of Education at the Hebrew University.
During my time with Aviv, I told him how much I loved Israel. In response, he mentioned to me that Rothberg International School at the Hebrew University offers Visiting Research Fellowships to international students. Aviv encouraged me to apply for a Fellowship so that I could study at Rothberg and complete my dissertation in social studies education. In hindsight, Aviv appears to be the driving force behind my decision to move to Israel and enroll at Rothberg as a Visiting Research Fellow!
Fast forward to Sunday, June 4. After my trip, I spent a few days in New York City visiting friends and regrouping from my journey. In the cab on my way to the airport for my flight from New York City to Cincinnati, I emailed my boss my resignation. I told him that I was moving to Israel.
Five months later, I moved. On October 15, 2017, my life began again.
To be continued . . .