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NYU Tel Aviv Students Featured in The Times of Israel

NYU Tel Aviv students at EMIS

The Times of Israel recently published an essay about NYU Tel Aviv students visiting the Eastern Mediterranean International School (EMIS). The essay was written by NYU Abu Dhabi student Rodrigo Ferreira who is currently studying in Tel Aviv and an alum of EMIS. NYU Tel Aviv students from New York, Shanghai, and Abu Dhabi participated in the outing. The exchange was meaningful for the EMIS and NYU students. Read Rodrigo’s essay here.

Exploring Interdisciplinary Approaches in Israel via NYU Tel Aviv

Professors Sasson and Embry at Tel Ha Shomer Hospital in Tel Aviv.

Lisa Sasson is the dietetic internship director and a clinical professor in the Steinhardt School of in the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies Department.  After directing the Nutrition and Food Study program at NYU Florence for many years, in May 2018 Professor Sasson directed the Nutrition and Food Study program at NYU Tel Aviv campus.

During the January intersession Professor Sasson co-teaches an interdisciplinary course, Case-Based Management of Dysphagia (swallowing difficulty), with Erin Embry, a speech pathologist from Communicative Science Disorders. This course is designed to promote the development and application of interdisciplinary, collaborative approaches to evidence-based management of patients with complex needs. Through the use of case studies, student led discussions and learning exercises, students work as a team to review and critique treatment and management practices. Students also participate in a hands-on and interactive dysphagia cooking competition.

 A week before Professor’s Sasson’s departure for Tel Aviv, she received a call from a professor in speech pathology in Israel who saw a clip of the Dysphagia course on the internet and wanted to learn more about this class.  There is growing interest in Israel interdisciplinary teaching. A couple of conference calls later, both Professor Sasson and Professor Embry were on their way to Israel to discuss this course in more detail and also explore possible future collaboration.

Professor Sasson was on her way to Israel to prepare for the study abroad program but for Professor Embry it was her first time in Israel and she had only a few days to prepare for the trip!

During their time in Israel, Professor Sasson and Professor Embry met with government representatives, NGO representatives, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, nutritionists, and hospital representatives.  Professors Sasson and Embry learned so much about health care and treatment in Israel.

Everyone agreed to stay in touch and share research, ideas and possible future collaboration. For professors Sasson and Embry it was proof that “NYU’s global network can lead to amazing opportunities for faculty and students.”


NYU and Tel Aviv University Sponsor a Symposium – New Horizons in Chemistry: From Fundamentals to Applications

On February 4 -6, 2017, Tel Aviv will be buzzing with energy as an accomplished collection of scholars will explore new horizons in chemistry. This symposium is jointly convened by NYU and Tel Aviv University and speakers will include professors from NYU, Tel Aviv University, NYU Tel Aviv, and other institutions. NYU President Andy Hamilton will also speak. It promises to be an exciting program.

The symposium is also sponsored by NYU Global Research Initiatives, the Office of the Provost, the Department of Chemistry, NYU Tel Aviv, and NYU MRSEC.

NYU Tel Aviv Director Benjamin Hary Interviewed by NPR

NYU Tel Aviv Director Benjamin Hary recently spoke to NPR. He contributed to the “The World in Words,” (NPR World Program) about Judeo-Arabic, which Professor Hary calls a “religiolect” because it is more than a dialect. Here is a link to the podcast. The program focuses on the unlikely story of the near-death and cultural revival of Judeo-Arabic. Professor Hary speaks about languages around minute three and comments on the politics of Arabic around minute ten.

NYU Shanghai Student Michael Lukiman Finds Interning while at NYU Tel Aviv “Life-Changing”

To conclude this series, we hear from an NYU Shanghai student who studied at NYU Tel Aviv, Michael Lukiman.

What is your school affiliation and what year are you? What is your major?

My main campus is NYU Shanghai, though I originally come from Southern California. I am a senior in the first graduating class of this campus, with commencement in May 2017. My official major is neural science, the study and research of the brain.

What inspired you to study in Tel Aviv?

I had heard that Tel Aviv was a business-oriented city, indeed in a place labeled as the world’s “Startup Nation”. Additionally, I felt I had a lot of perspective to learn from such a unique country and region. Similar to the reason I decided to study in South America in the previous semester, I feel that the various segments of the world can have unimaginably different modes of thinking; to fully put the puzzle together, sampling each place by living there can give those different modes of thinking due respect or at least understanding (which can help negotiate conflicts). But ultimately, it sounded like an adventure.

How was your experience? What was most inspiring, surprising, or moving about your time there? What did you find challenging?

My experience was life-changing. I would often walk along the Hayarkon River in Tel Aviv’s North side. What surprised me was just how much it was like California in terms of geography and climate – golden beaches, chaparral, and hiking to boot. There’s a point where you realize that these places were more alike than alien. What moved me was feeling the sun on my skin and looking toward the Mediterranean ocean. What inspired me is the sense of unfaltering unity in the community of Tel Aviv, including that of the NYU staff. It was challenging being a clear foreigner, but even then it was easy to get by with curiosities and the effort to speak the language. It was a pretty safe atmosphere, getting to the statistics of it. More universally, it could be seen as challenging to approach political or cultural elephants in the room, but NYU provided an exceptionally safe space for doing so. Additionally interesting, my technology internship’s locale had me walking by goats, cows, chickens, and pastures – a peculiar and outstanding way to stay connected to nature in the “tech” sphere.

I understand that you interned with Israel Brain Technologies while at NYU Tel Aviv. Can you tell us about how you came to intern there? Is this an academic internship or non-credit internship?

I like the feeling of creating something unique and emotional – and curious about how things work (and how we can make them work), notably the brain. When mixing this startup spirit with my academic major of neuroscience, finding Israel Brain Technologies allowed me to handle practical, real, and serious implementations of neuroscience-oriented ideas on a daily basis. I’d like to thank Ms. Ilana Goldberg, the internship coordinator, for being a very effective and important liaison in finding this perfect fit. I interviewed with her over Skype a couple months prior to starting, and everything was connected for this non-credit internship (it provided much more value than a couple credits). In this startup accelerator supported by Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman and former prime minister Shimon Peres, I worked closely with Miri Polachek and Yael Fuchs to get involved in all levels of an industry where business, science, and entrepreneurship lock eyes.

What did your work involve? How did you find the experience?

In an accelerator, there are multiple stages: first, you need to select which companies are promising and worthy of your resources, then spend months polishing their efficiency, marketing, and product through training and meetings (because nothing is perfect off the bat), and finally, connect and demonstrate their value to the investors. I had privilege of helping to organize the judging rounds to decide which final dozen or so of the upwards of fifty companies would come under IBT’s wing, thereby earning me the key opportunity to sit in on the board meetings and serious decision-making discussions behind the table. How does an idea go from paper to effectively profiting and providing value in the community? I played a part in learning the financing infrastructure of such an institution, as well as being able to connect one-on-one with entrepreneurs of these companies, in Israel of all places, the country with the most startups per capita. More importantly, I could learn what life was like day-to-day in an industry like this – the meetings, the organization, the challenges, the jargon, hierarchy, and not to mention how long their workdays were.

As I understand it, Israel Brain Technologies is a non-profit that seeks to accelerate the commercialization of Israel’s brain-related innovation and establish Israel as a leading international brain technology hub. Did being there feel as though you were at the crossroads of the non-profit, tech and start-up worlds? How would you best describe the organization, its mission, and how it influences the development of brain technologies?

Yeah, it was definitely a sweet mix of all things entrepreneurial and scientific! Moreover, it was grounded. There were no obsessive metrics, although there was an emphasis on overall social impact and how much money would be needed. You could emphasize simple rules like: Who would use this? Why is this important? Why is it better? How do we get there? What’s the market like? Is it possible? Is it efficient? When you mix the detailed pace of truth-finding science with the expedience of business, it kinda becomes like engineering. The mission of Israel Brain Technologies to me was to address a silo of business that we once saw as impossible or overly complicated – empowering companies with exciting ideas, some of which sought to allow you to control machines just with your thoughts (not physically impossible), or companies that were out to cure and assist those with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other disabilities. These are companies that, if successful, could add thousands of years of quality of life around the world – and some of these breakthroughs are already in practice today. That’s invaluable. To make these groups successful, we need to think about money, resources, and how to get themselves to the people that want to hear about them. I knew this internship was genuine because the type of the people working there – many of whom are mothers who are wonderfully leading the mission while managing to care for their kids. Those concurrent activities vest you into anything you do.   

Do you feel as though the work you did as an intern has been valuable? Has working for Israel Brain Technologies changed your understanding of innovation is promoted? Or the various manners in which we are seeking to use technology for the brain? If so, can you describe how?

In every internship, my main objective is to learn insights and work my way up a knowledge, wisdom, and community ladder. I like the simple heuristic to provide a new conceptual continent, or at least district on the map, so to speak. There, one could either mentally rest or return to when needed. Israel Brain Technologies has given me the most in terms of this, where I can think about science in relation to business and money, and hence what I’m studying in relation to what other people are experiencing. I learned that starting a company is both overwhelmingly complex and simple. I learned that pressure is just reflective of how much you can offer – if you aren’t thinking in the right mode, no matter how hard you try, you can’t get into the right arena. Most of all, it assured me that neuroscience is still the promising new frontier that I first saw when choosing it for my initial college career – generally, anything that most people can entertain as science-fiction and then be surprised about when someone tells you it’s a real product is society’s current sweet spot of discovery. On the honest flipside, I learned that lots of people don’t have what it takes to really think in a risk-welcoming, conflict-welcoming endeavor while still focusing on the big picture. Something gets in the way and creates tunnel vision with the companies that we didn’t accept, either pride, doubt, or lack of enthusiasm. You’ve really got to objectively focus on what you’re doing, at least if you want to make it exceptional. Either have a good track record or a good spirit – anything less, you can imagine people will not demand as much. That’s just a lose-lose for both you and the people. For startups, this means accepting when something is just a plain bad idea, or maybe realizing that something is a good idea when everyone else says it is bad. For neuroscience, there’s a realization that anything a brain can do, a computer may eventually do, given some bureaucracies. This fact in turn humbles anyone. A brain just just another component which we can funnel technology through; it can decay or be sharpened. So I think it’s logical use it wisely by getting an internship that keeps it on its toes.

How do you feel your internship experience has complemented your academic experience at NYU Tel Aviv?

It’s hard to think of a way which my classes related to my internship. That’s probably a good thing, since sticking to one main behavior in a new country can easily put a cone around your head to experiences. I mostly took politics courses, as well as a linguistics course about Hebrew, Arabic, and other languages of the region. It’s a cop-out, but I can say that language and socially/tribally-driven politics has a reserved space for neuroscience because knowing the brain can help us anticipate and navigate these once irreducible landscapes. It’s what I’ve always said to myself. But one could say that about any field. In my classes, we talked about dictatorship, religion, and all sorts of controversial things. I do have to say that it’s a good exercise to think how our brain is lighting up when discussing these topics that are close to home, where so much identity is on the line for a lot of people. There may be a latent element there that can help us prevent conflict and ease tensions, just like how we discovered more empathy and personal stories can increase donations to charity. Another link is that running successful companies and running successful governments have their parallels, although on different scales. One similarity is that you’ve got to care for your people or else you’re not going to have a good time.

Has your time studying at NYU Tel Aviv or your experience in either internship informed your thinking about your future plans? If so, how?

Because of these experiences in Tel Aviv, I realize there’s a lot of work to be done not only in creating new things but fixing old ones. So it’s Silicon Valley with a more evocative twist. It put me on the other side of the table – after judging other companies, now I judge myself: I have my work ethic, and that provides a certain amount of value to people. How much does brain research mean to a government or economy whose main metric is still profit or gross output? How much will working 100 hours a week and dotting every “i” marginally increase what we can do opposed to what I can experience or share with other people outside of work? And how much are my genetics and environment really going to allow me/us to accomplish? These are questions that being on the other side of the table taught me. There’s a generic match in every institution, and being in Tel Aviv thinking of different governing styles and judging different companies begged the question to find what unique features groups really need to break ceilings. Ultimately, this experience in Tel Aviv showed me the real world of business as well as the real, firsthand world of political strife, as far as I know of course. In other places, we may take big corporations and an established government for granted, whereas they are only as solid as allowed, not to say that they’re not strong. That is, although there’s a lot to learn, life has become a bit more transparent, at least to a 21-year-old me, through this experience.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about your time in Tel Aviv or while at NYU?

I recommend an experience like this, especially if you think you don’t quite fit the bill, because the abrasion may just provide pearls of insight.

Zoya Teirstein Discusses Interning in Tel Aviv Affirming Her Environmental Journalism Plans

Zoya Teirstein studied at NYU Tel Aviv in the spring of 2016. She managed two internships while there and shares her experiences with us.

What is your school affiliation and what year are you? What is your major?

I am a senior at Gallatin concentrating in Environmental Reporting.

What inspired you to study in Tel Aviv?

I signed up for the NYU Tel Aviv program just in the nick of time. I was planning on doing a backpacking semester in California, but it fell through at the last minute and I chose to go to Israel instead kind of on a whim. I had been to Israel a few years earlier on a summer program and loved it, so that definitely factored into my decision. I was also interested in journalism and politics–Tel Aviv has a lot of both. The semester in California was supposed to be all about sustainability, which is the second component of my concentration. While I was excited about studying journalism in Tel Aviv, I was disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to immerse myself in environmental issues like I had planned. But I ended up interning for an environmental NGO and wound up learning a lot about what sustainability looks like in the Middle East.

How was your experience? What was most inspiring, surprising, or moving about your time there? What did you find challenging?

Tel Aviv is a lot like New York City in the sense that there’s always something going on. I was surprised how easy it was to feel comfortable there. When you move to a different place you expect to feel isolated, at least in the beginning. But that just wasn’t the case in Tel Aviv. Israelis are some of the most curious and friendly people, and I met interesting people almost every time I left the house. Unlike NYC, its sunny and warm almost every day, which is another incentive to go do things you wouldn’t normally do. I bought a used bike my first week there and used it to go to lectures at Tel Aviv University and find cool beaches, something I definitely wouldn’t be doing in New York in the middle of February.

I understand that you interned with the Haaretz Daily and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel while at NYU Tel Aviv. Can you tell us about how you came to intern at both places? Were these academic internships or non-credit internships?

I interned with Haaretz and SPNI during my semester in Tel Aviv, which took place in Spring 2016. I found out about SPNI through Ilana Goldberg, who is the internship coordinator at NYU Tel Aviv and an amazing resource for people looking to intern abroad. I interviewed during my first couple weeks in Tel Aviv and started working there shortly after. Haaretz is Israel’s leading newspaper and getting an internship there is hard to do. Haaretz doesn’t advertise its internships on its website, and finding a contact at the newspaper who can set you up with an internship is difficult. Also, Haaretz normally finds interns through third party organizations, usually jewish groups that specialize in setting students up with long-term internships in Israel. The only reason I got that internship is because I went to a Haaretz event in NYC the previous semester and spoke to some Haaretz journalists who were willing to help me out.

What did your work at each involve? How did you find the experiences?

Both experiences were pretty amazing. Working at Haaretz was cool because its a major newspaper in a relatively small country that has breaking news events on a daily, if not hourly, basis. The Middle East is extremely volatile, and the newsroom would often have to drop everything to cover a developing crisis (this happened almost every time I went into work). During my first month at Haaretz, there were a string of stabbings in Jerusalem. It would be like 5 p.m. on a Thursday and just as most of our journalists were getting ready to leave for the weekend (Friday is not a work day in Israel) we’d get a report through the wires that there was another stabbing and everything would dissolve into chaos for 30 minutes. I was learning how to write breaking news headlines during this time, which was stressful and often really sad.

My experience at SPNI was definitely less intense, but equally if not more rewarding. My first day there I was put in charge of monitoring and documenting fracking in the Golan Heights for the SPNI English website. A small company called Afek Oil and Co. was trying to drill for commercial oil in some of Israel’s most beautiful terrain, and SPNI was doing everything it could to block it. This story has all the makings of a great thriller (some of the people on the board of this tiny company include Rupert Murdoch, Dick Cheney, and Israel’s former housing minister). I won’t go into it here, but you can read my work on this campaign using this link: http://natureisrael.org/What-We-Do/golandrillingcampaign/golandrilling

I got to travel around Israel and interview water experts, environmental lawyers, and community activists. In America, an oil company might spill a few hundred thousand gallons of oil into a river and it can take years to get that company to pay for the damage it caused. Israel is much smaller than the United States, about the size of New Jersey, which means that when a community gets organized and tries to stop a corrupt company from exploiting natural resources, the federal government hears about it relatively quickly. This happened in the Judean lowlands, where a fracking company was stopped in its tracks by a coalition of informed civilians. I’d recommend interning at SPNI to almost anyone, regardless of how interested you are in saving the environment.

Do you feel as though the work you did as an intern has been valuable? Has working for the Haaretz Daily changed your understanding of journalism? And has your work with the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel influenced how you think about environmental issues? If so, can you describe how?

Definitely. I had worked in a newsroom before going to Tel Aviv, but Haaretz is on a completely different playing field. Haaretz is considered far left of center, something a lot of Israeli’s don’t like. I learned early on not to tell people where I worked. An old lady yelled at me on the bus one time because she thought Haaretz was “tearing our country apart.”  But I think the work they do is important. Unlike a lot of other newspapers in Israel, Haaretz covers issues on both sides of the conflict and gives precedence to newsworthy issues that have to do with Palestinian rights. America is just starting to confront the reality of a Trump presidency, but Israelis have been dealing with right-wing extremism for a long time. Benjamin Netanyahu, a proponent of settlement expansion, began his fourth term as Israel’s Prime Minister in 2015. Haaretz has been trying to hold him accountable since his first day in office. I also learned how much work goes into combating environmental degradation during my internship with SPNI. You’d think even the most money-hungry oil company would look at the Golan Heights, see its importance as an agricultural hub, its propensity for seismic activity, and the enormous reservoir right at its center, and stop to do an environmental impact report before blasting chemicals hundreds of meters into the ground. SPNI had to employ slews of experts, lawyers, and community leaders in its effort to combat Afek, and that’s just one campaign! I have a lot of appreciation for the work journalists and environmentalists do on a daily basis.

How do you feel your internship experience has complemented your academic experience at NYU Tel Aviv?

NYU Tel Aviv is amazing, but it’s insular. The campus is in the north, far from the busy center of the city, and there was a tendency, at least in my semester, to hang out on campus. If you chose to study abroad chances are you planned on doing more than drinking beers in the NYU Tel Aviv courtyard with the kids on your program. Getting an internship is a great way to get out of the bubble and see new things.

Has your time studying at NYU Tel Aviv or your experience in either internship informed your thinking about your future plans? If so, how?

It renewed my conviction to pursue environmental reporting, something I hope to pursue (maybe in Israel).

Marissa Adler Reflects on Personal Growth Through Interning while at NYU Tel Aviv

Marissa enjoying ice cream in Tel Aviv.

Today we are in conversation with Marissa Adler, discussing her experience interning while at NYU Tel Aviv.

What is your school affiliation and what year are you? What is your major?

I am a junior in the College of Arts and Science, majoring in Politics.

What inspired you to study in Tel Aviv?

I think I always felt that if I was going to study abroad, it would be in Israel. Not only do I feel a religious connection (I’m Jewish), but I’ve been there a few times before, with family, friends, and school too. The only thing missing from those visits was the fact that I had never felt like I actually had the opportunity to live there. By spending 4 months there over the course of a semester, I felt like I had the opportunity to experience Israel not just as a visitor, but as an Israeli, which was really amazing for me.

How was your experience? What was most inspiring, surprising, or moving about your time there? What did you find challenging?

In short, my experience really was incredible. It might sound over the top, but honestly, there was something inspiring, surprising, and moving about every activity we did. NYU took us on amazing trips to Jerusalem, the North, the desert, and all over the country. I got to see gorgeous waterfalls while hiking the Israeli-Syrian border and then swim in a nature reserve in the Mediterranean in the North. But if I had to pick a specific moment that I know I will never forget, I think it would have to be the night of the holiday Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur is a fast day and one of the holiest days for Jews. In Israel, everything shuts down. No stores are open, no one drives, there’s nothing really on TV; everyone just spends time with friends and relatives. So that night, after I had come back from synagogue with my friends (some of whom weren’t Jewish and just wanted to experience the holiday), we decided to play cards because that doesn’t involve using electronics. We played cards long into the night, and then at around midnight, someone had an idea: “wait, there’s no cars guys, let’s play in the middle of the street!” So there we were, at midnight, sitting on a spare sheet, while kids rode by us on their bikes, laughing and playing cards in the middle of the street. I can’t tell you how amazing that was because it just made me feel like I was exactly where I belonged; I felt so at home.

I understand that you interned with the Israel Religious Action Center while at NYU Tel Aviv. Can you tell us about the organization and how you came to intern there? Was this an academic internship or a non-credit internship?

The Israel Religious Action Center started out as an arm of the United Reform Judaism organization and advocating for the Reform community in Israel. It was, and still is, difficult for Reform congregations to get recognized in Israel, so IRAC (our acronym) is there to support them. As the organization has progressed, their legal advocacy has expanded to other minority groups with a presence in Israel like the Israeli-Arab community, LGBTQ community, women, and several other groups. Our main goal was always, first and foremost, to obtain equality for all people living in Israel.

I was fortunate enough to get this opportunity through Ilana Goldberg. She and I discussed my interests over the course of the summer, and she reached out to several organizations she thought would coincide best with my interests. When she suggested IRAC and advised me to research their work, I immediately knew that it was where I wanted to be. It was also a for-credit internship.

Signs for the march against hatred that Marissa helped to organize while at IRAC.

What did your work at IRAC involve? How did you find the experience?

My primary work at IRAC was to research and develop a process by which a college student could create an on-campus group that is affiliated with IRAC. Throughout the course of the semester, I was in contact with several leaders of other groups (like Jstreet, Hillel boards, etc.) from a few universities in the North East. They advised and encouraged me to develop a plan that outlined my ideas for a potential group, and most importantly, how my group would be different from other social justice groups on campus. I also reached out to groups such as NFTY (North American Federation of Temple Youth), which is a youth group for the Reform movement, in order to gauge their reactions to a potential collaboration. Additionally, I did work around the office that required any additional help and was at the disposal of the Human Resource team.

The experience was definitely life-changing. I realized how much one organization can accomplish in multiple areas of society. Though my primary work was to research the college group development process, there were days where I helped with other events like in the organization and implementation of a march against discrimination. I got to hear discussions about press releases, talk to attorneys in the legal arm of the organization, and just be a part of everything at the office. It was incredible to see how much of an impact IRAC could have in the community in Jerusalem and Israel at large.

Do you feel as though the work you did as an intern was valuable and did you see its impact? I understand that IRAC is the public and legal advocacy arm of the Reform Movement in Israel and works to advance pluralism in Israeli society. Did the experience change your understanding of issues civil and human rights and the issues of religion and state in Israel? If so, can you describe how?

I really do feel like my work had value and impact. In the immediate sense, I suppose I felt it when I helped with the march against hatred we did in October. In the long term, it was my research and the networks I established through the process of developing an outline of what an on-campus group affiliated with IRAC could look like. I also felt like I was having an impact just by being in the office, or maybe it was the office environment that was having an impact on me. I suppose it worked both ways, and for that, I am incredibly grateful.

My work with IRAC definitely gave me a better understanding of civil and human rights issues in Israel. I was familiar with many of the current events and issues, but not in the way IRAC allowed me to be. I not only heard about certain issues, like threats from members of the Orthodox community made against members of the Reform movement at a congregation in Raanana, but I got to see how the organizations fighting these issues would react when these challenges arose. I knew about the Women of the Wall movement but I got to hear Enat Hoffman, one of the chairwomen, talk about dancing at the Western Wall with torahs and how significant that progress is for Jewish women. I felt more involved in what was and is going on than I ever had before, which was incredible for me.

How do you feel your internship experience has complemented your academic experience at NYU Tel Aviv?

Well, while I was in Tel Aviv, two of the classes I took were politics classes. I took “Comparative Radical Politics,” and “Diplomacy and Negotiation.” While we talked about different political theories and beliefs in those classes, I got to see their implementation while I was in the office at IRAC. I knew the beliefs associated with the right and left in the Israeli political system, but by working at IRAC I saw how the policies were effecting the members of the population and the implications those policies had on the way IRAC conducted its work. So my academic work and my internship definitely had a tremendous sense of cohesion.

Has your time studying at NYU Tel Aviv or interning at IRAC informed your thinking about your future plans? If so, how?

I think it really affirmed for me that I need to work with people. Not just in a literal sense, but I need to be in a work environment where our goal is the betterment of different populations’ ways of life. There is so much that inhibits various groups of people around the world from living the way they want or even need to, and from my experience as a Jewish woman, I feel a connection with those groups. I want to help people, from a legal or perhaps non-profit perspective, work towards having the lives they want and deserve to live. I’m pretty sure law school is definitely part of my future at this point.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about your time in Tel Aviv or while at NYU?

I guess I can’t say enough how amazing it was. It allowed me to grow in so many ways, as a person, a Jew, a woman, and even more. I really want other people to experience Israel, regardless of their religion, because it is an incredible place that gives you a life changing spiritual experience.

Spotlight On NYU Tel Aviv: Interning in Israel

We are going to take a few posts to explore the internship experience at NYU Tel Aviv. To begin, we spoke with Ilana Goldberg, Internship Coordinator and Instructor at NYU Tel Aviv. She explained that the internship program was first created by Debra London, one of the people who set up the study away site at NYU Tel Aviv.  Debra’s focus was on internships in non-profits and human rights organizations, but since then the program has expanded to include businesses, startups, think tanks, research centers, and art institutions.
According to Ilana, “Internships are the single most effective way for students to immerse in local culture and meet Israelis, and get insider perspectives on life in Israel. Most students seek internships in a field that they want exposure to as part of career exploration, although some take advantage of the opportunity to do something adventurous that isn’t necessarily related to their major or explicit career choices. For those who choose a field that is related to their major, gaining experience in a work environment provides opportunities to really confront theory and practice and see how they interrelate in regard to real-world dilemmas. For example, a business student may gain experience with a cutting edge methodology for creating lean business plans, and confront this experience with more traditional methods taught in the classroom. Or, a student interested in universal human rights can see how advocating for specific rights, such as workers’ rights or the right of movement plays out in a specific national and political context.”
All the internships are unpaid and therefore come under the umbrella of NYU Tel Aviv’s academic activity, although students can choose whether to pursue the internship for credit or not. Students who wish to earn credit for their internships must enroll in the internship seminar, attend classes, and fulfill all the associated academic assignments. For the final paper, they undertake a small research project that brings an academic perspective to bear on some aspect of their placement and intern experience.
To find suitable placements, Ilana begins with the applications that students submitted to the Office of Global studies. From this she learns about their college majors and declared interests. She then contacts students individually and requests updated resumes and sometimes also a writing sample or portfolio. In most cases she will also initiate a Skype interview, in order to get to know their personality a bit better, and help clarify and narrow down their interests.  Based on the student’s interests, and academic and professional profile, Ilana tries to match them with organizations NYU Tel Aviv has worked with in the past or she reaches out to new organizations, in order to optimize the fit. The next step is making the connection between the student and the organization or company. At this point the student and recruiter at the organization take the lead and arrange an interview, and sometimes students will be asked to perform an assignment to evaluate their skills. The organization or company makes the final determination. Since some internships are very competitive, Ilana will sometimes refer students to two or more organizations simultaneously.
In most cases, the matching process works extremely well, but sometimes placement sites want to wait to meet the student in person, and things are only finalized after arrival. For the uncommon event that a placement falls through in the last minute,  Ilana tries to access additional backup options.
The first weeks of the semester can be colored by a little uncertainty, and some patience is required until the student begins to adjust and feel comfortable at the placement. All the students in the internship program are offered continual support in dealing with workplace issues and dilemmas throughout the semester, both Ilana and the Assistant Director for Academics, Edan Raviv.
Ilana finds that, “Every semester ends with a crop of very satisfying and rewarding experiences for students. Many times students feel that their internship has been life changing, either because they have been empowered by the responsibilities and tasks they were given, or because they overcame personal challenges. Often students speak of being exposed to a reality that was eye-opening for them, and were proud of their ability to assimilate new information, overcome language and cultural barriers, and make a contribution or impact in an unfamiliar setting. A unique characteristic of the Israeli workplace is that young people are given a lot of credit and autonomy, and so if a student is really dedicated to learning and developing skills, they are likely to be entrusted with meaningful work, and frequently have significant accomplishments to show by the end.”

NYU Steinhardt and NYU Tel Aviv Helping to Organise and Sponsor Sustainable Food Systems Conference

Sustainable Food Systems - Agriculture, Environment and Nutrition

NYU Steinhardt Professor Lisa Sasson is helping to organize a Sustainable Food Systems conference at Tel Aviv University, Israel on 20-21 June. Sponsored by the Manna Center Program for Food Safety and Security at Tel Aviv University, the Israeli Forum for Sustainable Nutrition, and New York University, the conference will unite students and experts to discuss food safety, sustainability, nutrition, and public policy. NYU involvement and support includes participation from NYU Steinhardt, the Provost’s Global Research Initiatives program, and NYU Tel Aviv.

The conference will enable participants to learn from and interact with renowned academic experts, government officials, industry leaders, and activists in the global and local food movement.

Sustainable food systems takes into account environmental, health, social and economic concerns in the production and consumption of food. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the UN, “Sustainable Diets are those diets with low environmental impacts which contribute to food and nutrition security and to healthy life for present and future generations. Sustainable diets are protective and respectful of biodiversity and ecosystems, culturally acceptable, accessible, economically fair and affordable; nutritionally adequate, safe and healthy; while optimizing natural and human resources”. Sustainable diets are the outcome of sustainable food systems.

The aim of the conference is to draw on the themes of sustainability and food security, public policy, nutrition, and food justice, by bringing students and experts involved in these topics.  The outcome will enable tackling the question of how best to integrate sustainability in our food system.

Read more from the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

NYU Tel Aviv Students have Unique Modern Dance Experience

NYU Tel Aviv students recently participated in a rare modern dance experience. The Batsheva dance troupe practices in a famous dance pavilion located in Neveh Tzedek, a neighborhood in southern Tel Aviv with cobbled stone streets and small artisan shops. NYU students were invited into a private final rehearsal of the troupe’s choreographer, Ohad Naharin’s, most recent dance production.

A week before the rehearsal Students also had the opportunity to attend a public GAGA Dance lesson. Gaga is the movement language developed by Ohad Naharin throughout his work as a choreographer and Artistic Director of Batsheva Dance Company.

The GAGA dance lesson.

The GAGA dance lesson

Yitian Zhao, a Business and Finance student from NYU Shanghai attended the class: “This class really empowered everyone, regardless of their previous dancing background, to fully take advantage of our body’s flexibility. By offering tips on how to coordinate different body parts, Ohad Naharin took us onto a journey where we could artistically interpret our emotions via body.

The intimate performance if “The Hole” a week later had an occasional pause for the choreographer’s interjection and improvisation, which is an experience that only the dancer’s themselves are typically invited to see. Following the performance Ohad sat down with our students to field questions about his career path, creative process and choices in crafting this sort of evocative dance performance. In addition, NYU students had the opportunity to meet up with a fellow NYU alum who joined the Batsheva group following his graduation.

The NYU Tel Aviv students loved the performance. Michael Luckiman, a junior studying Neural Science at NYU Shanghai commented: “the event was astounding, well ­synchronized, immersive, and almost violently scary. There were constant surprises about the show, shocking its way into your memory“.

Daniela Echeverria, a History Major from the College of Arts and Science reflected, “Usually I am not so much a fan of contemporary dance; I went into the performance expecting to be entertained but not moved; Instead, the Company’s work had a profound emotional effect on me.” Daniela continued and mentioned she was grateful for the discussion session we had with Naharin “He left many questions and answers openended. In this way, he allows each individual spectator an opportunity to cultivate an experience of his art that is entirely his/her own.”