By Zane Colt
Zane Colt, Israel Government Fellows 2014-2015
A year-and-a-half ago, I was wrapping up a wonderful Chanukah in Jerusalem. I was surrounded by new friends from around the world, sampling some of the finest sufganiyot in Israel, and trudging through deeper snow than we saw in Toronto this winter. Jerusalem was beautiful and my five months in Israel had me feeling on top of the world.
I was an Israel Government Fellow. The IGF program is a ten month long elite political internship opportunity under the Masa Israel banner. Last year there were fifteen of us from around the world: Canada, the United States, Brazil, France, Argentina, and Bulgaria. We interned at either the Ministry or the NGO of our choice for four days a week and on Thursdays we would gather at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem to hear from engaging politicians, NGOs, judges, journalists, or social commentators. Living in Jerusalem was great, but immersing myself in Israeli civil society by speaking Hebrew, shopping at the shuk, and spending my free time traveling both on and off the beaten path in Israel was even better.
As a political junkie here in Canada I thought that IGF was a perfect fit for me. I had first heard about the program in high school and waited patiently until I finished my undergrad before I could apply. I was involved in Israel advocacy at Carleton University in Ottawa and interning at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs working under diplomats and civil servants that have been stationed around the globe was the perfect extension of my hobbies and research interests.
When I returned home to Toronto, I worked as the Synagogues and Small Communities Coordinator for CJPAC. This month, I moved to London to pursue my Masters in Global Diplomacy at SOAS at the University of London. I recommend IGF or any Masa program for those looking to take a year of personal and professional development between the end of their undergraduate degree and either work or further their studies. IGF is a great opportunity to build a CV, build character and build a network of friends and alumni from around the world. I always say that I learn the most about myself by cultural immersion and travel. This is best expressed in my time on IGF and l am certain it will be the same for you.