Career Israel set me up with an educational internship that suited my professional interest and background perfectly, but little did I know that the experience I took part in would be nothing short of life changing for me. I was placed at the English Department at the Boyer School, a boarding school outside of Jerusalem, which is one of Israel’s premier schools. The students come from all corners of the country, from the northern-most kibbutz whose security fence is the barbed wire border with Syria or Lebanon, to the very south in the Negev where an oasis has grown out of nothing but sand, to the very east, past the security wall in the West Bank, to the very west in the city of Sderot, whose only neighbor lies one mile west of them in Gaza, and there are the daily target of rocket attacks from Hamas.
My supervisor asked to do three simple tasks daily: help the teachers and students with their daily assignments, quizzes, and projects, correcting simple written or verbal mistakes, pull the weaker students out of class and read with them or just talk to them, and, help prepare the older students for the English portion of the Bagrut tests, the Israeli version of the SATs. What the people at Boyer asked me to do seemed so simple at the time, as English is my first and only language, but this easy access to my English skills, which I easily take for granted, proved to be so valuable when I used them to help my students improve their own English skills.
On my last day at Boyer I truly realized how life changing my time at the school had been. It wasn’t just because of the going away party or the speech the principal gave to the school in my honor. It was the little things that made me realize that I had made an impact—the smiles on the students’ faces as I walked by and the screams of “ALBERT SHALOM” that echoed down the halls and across campus when students got sight of me. It was the tears that the students had on my last day as I walked away. It was the note that one of my students who could not speak, write, or read one word of English when I got there, which said, “Thank you Albert. You are the best. We miss you.” The students just wanted to learn from someone who truly cared, who was passionate, enthusiastic, and who was there for them. This is something that I learned from Boyer about myself on a professional level as an educator, and that will stand the test of time. Not only did Masa Israel and Career Israel allow Israel to impact me, but they enabled me to impact Israel and its people.