As an undergraduate student, I had the privilege of studying at the Rothberg International School for a semester.
“My time at RIS has truly been the gift that keeps on giving, as the knowledge, perspective, and relationships that I gained continue to profoundly impact my life today”.
During my semester, I completed an independent study for class credit at Schneider Speech Pathology, a private clinic in Jerusalem. There, I assisted with a research project that examined best practices for stuttering treatment in Israel. One year after returning to the states, I co-presented this research project at the National Stuttering Association conference in Atlanta, Georgia. Blending two of my greatest passions, Israel and speech pathology, ignited a sense of purpose and laid the foundation for the rest of my career. Now, I am a PhD student at the Michael and Tami Lang Stuttering Institute at the University of Texas at Austin, where I conduct Israel-related research. I explore Israelis’ perceptions of people who stutter, as well as stigma reduction and conflict resolution. As my professional endeavors grow and blossom, I know that the seed was planted at Rothberg.
Communication is not only my academic interest; it is my personal value, as well. During my semester at RIS, I learned Hebrew through intensive Ulpan classes. Learning Hebrew allowed me to connect with those around me on a deeper and more genuine level. I could banter with sellers in the shuk, converse with bus drivers, and order food at restaurants, in HEBREW! These interactions might seem fleeting or insignificant, but to me, they meant the world. Part of my motivation to learn Hebrew was influenced by the people teaching it. The Hebrew at teachers at RIS are some of the kindest, most engaging, most intelligent people I have ever known, and I continue to admire them as educators and extraordinary human beings.
This leads to the greatest gift that RIS gave me: meaningful relationships. Studying at RIS inducted me into a diverse community that values authenticity, exploration, discovery, and critical thinking. On my first night in Israel, I attended a camp-out hosted by Rothberg’s student life office. There, I met two other students. As we sat on the ground, eating pita and hummus, we discussed why we
came to Israel to study. What started as a simple conversation quickly turned into a deep discussion of values and experiences. Now, 4 years, 2 reunions, and countless Facetime dates later, it is safe to say that Alyssa and Heather are not only my classmates from a semester abroad; they are two of my closest and most cherished friends for life.
Since my semester at Rothberg, I have been fortunate enough to return to Israel several times as a Birthright staff member. This role lets me share my love for Israel with newcomers, practice Hebrew, and see the country through their eyes.
Through the continuation of personal relationships and professional pursuits, I can see now that my RIS experience was really only the beginning of a journey that is much bigger than myself, and much longer than a semester. I am forever grateful to every student, teacher, staff member, and administrator at Rothberg who changed my life in the best possible way. “Todah” from Texas!