Home University: Rutgers University, United States
Year of Study: Fourth-year undergraduate
From Rutgers to RIS
When Rebecca Meiner enrolled in an undergraduate study abroad program at Hebrew University’s Rothberg International School (RIS) last spring, she planned on staying for only one semester. “I just loved Israel, and specifically, Jerusalem. I had never spent extended periods of time in Jerusalem, only short trips, and I never wanted to leave. This time I wanted to really spend time here, to live here. It’s been so awesome. And I knew people who had been to Hebrew University and had a great experience. So that’s what I chose.”
Becca felt right at home at HebrewU’s RIS. “I had lots of help on my program, an instant ‘in,’ made amazing friends…the ulpan [intensive Hebrew language] teachers were amazing. It was a great learning experience.” Of her ulpan courses, Becca says, “The ulpan gave me the kick-start I needed to use the Hebrew I knew and have confidence in it.” As a psychology major, Becca found RIS courses like “Military Psychology” interesting, along with Jewish studies courses. “They have really enhanced my experience and helped me remember the importance of where I am.”
Becca felt she was gaining so much, “but I was missing that feeling of giving back.” She immediately thought of Gift of Life – a marrow registry that helps match blood cancer patients with marrow donors. Becca had run a donor drive for the organization back at Rutgers University. It was so successful that she became a Gift of Life campus ambassador there. Becca decided to bring this important work to HebrewU. She is now proud to be the first Gift of Life campus ambassador in all of Israel.
As campus ambassador, Becca both attends classes at RIS and gives inspiring talks that aim to get students swabbed and entered into the international marrow registry in an effort to help cure blood cancer. “It’s so important. There’s a lot of stigma against bone-marrow donation and what it actually is….the majority of donations are done through blood stem cell transplant. We have the cure to end blood cancer – we just need people who are willing to make that possible!”
Becca continues to enjoy her studies at RIS, and she also looks forward to each Thursday night before Shabbat. “Shabbat in Israel is really special…getting to experience the preparation for Shabbat as part of the culture of the country is a unifying experience. It’s a day that brings people together, regardless of religious affiliation or background.” What started out as one semester at RIS and participation in Thrive, an additional immersive cultural program, has now become a full year of study at RIS. “I just didn’t want to leave Israel. I knew that if I could make it work, Jerusalem would be my city.”