Study Abroad | Masa Israel

Study Abroad


Posted February 12th, 2018

by Miranda Wall-Franklin, Tel Aviv University International MA in Conflict Resolution & Mediation

Graduate school is like a roller coaster. ​You get on, it starts slow, and then it gradually accelerates until you're on a high-speed ride and cannot get off until it ends. Lately, school has been intense. I had my first final exam yesterday (whoo!), two papers due next week, and one final exam to study for. After next week, I will have a final paper due every week for the next month. In addition to my school work, I am doing some extra curricular activities. 

I’m happily surprised by how easily and quickly things happen here. One of my goals for coming to Israel was to work with children in an empathy-building capacity. Just three months later, I have an internship with Debate for Peace and will be starting a volunteer project with Elifelet shortly. Elifelet is an Israeli nonprofit focused on helping refugee children in the country. I will go to an under-staffed refugee day care center once a week in order to be a consistent caregiver for at least one 2-3 year old child. It’s a cause I think is super important and I’m so excited to get started.

Another one of my goals was to work in the lab of Nurit Shnabel, a social psychology professor at Tel Aviv University whose research I admire. Just a couple weeks after reaching out to her, I am helping two of her PhD candidates with a research project.

I was also accepted into a conference called VHacks held in Rome. It brings students with technology backgrounds and students with social change initiatives together. Very exciting!

Oh, and I am also on two committees at TAU: International Senate, which brings together representatives from every international program to suggest activities for the student union and our Madrichim (ambassadors to everything non-academic in Israel), and Interdisciplinary Committee, where we plan speakers and events related to conflict resolution for our fellow classmates. 

As you can see, I’m doing a lot, not to mention my classes. Moreover, I love everything I do. I love the act of learning almost anything. The problem is there is never enough time in the day. My New Year’s resolution for 2018 is simplicity. I believe you do more meaningful work when you do less. The problem is then, how do I do less? The best answer I’ve been able to come up with is to pick one thing - the thing - you want to focus on. But then what is the thing?

I’ve been pondering this for awhile. I knew I was unhappy working in entertainment so I went to grad school, in part because I thought it would help to clarify what I want to do in life. In some ways it has. I know eventually I want to become a US Diplomat. But in other ways it has made the future even more obscure. Before I join the State Department, I want to spend more time learning. I have a strong interest in social psychology and I thought that I wanted to get a PhD after my Masters. But now I’m not so sure. I’m surprisingly loving my international law and political science classes. And academia is seeming repetitious to me. Occasionally there are new findings, but for the most part, people respond to and expand on other people’s research. When there are new findings, what does that do? Do the findings translate beyond the academic community into actions that affect everyday people? This is an area that needs further research. 

Meanwhile, I have a theory of my own that I developed whilst figuring out what I want to do in life: our ideal career is dependent on our values and our function in the world.

            Hypothesis1 (v): Values in line with job correlates with ideal career; β1 > 0
            Hypothesis2 (f): Function in the world in line with job correlates with ideal career; β2 > 0

Here's the statistical formula:

             Y = β0 + βvDv + βfDf + ε 

My values are doing something that I consider ethically sound, has some positive influence on people’s lives, and that still enables me to live a comfortable life with a decent paycheck. In terms of function in the world, I feel most driven to take an active, getting things done role.

The other night I woke up groggily after a long night of my brain working really hard. The first coherent thought was, “I should go to law school.” This came as a shock to me. Not that I’ve never considered it, but that I’ve never wanted to be a lawyer. It sounds strange since who wouldn’t? But I don’t particularly like the idea of practicing law. I've worked with lawyers and the bulk of what they did seemed boring. However, it is in line with my values and function in the world. Additionally, I love the conceptual study of law and value the tools you gain from law school. I also love the negotiating aspect that many lawyers practice. So if I could go to law school and specify in negotiation and international law, I think I would be happy. However, since I have not yet proven my hypotheses above, I cannot be sure. I will let you know in 10 years or so when I have the results. 

I want to take the time to acknowledge how lucky I am to have the dilemma of "what do I want to do in life?" Many people do not have this choice. 

Here’s to an uncertain and exciting year ahead.

Highlights from this year so far: 




(Broshim dorm cat lounging in the community room)


(Yarkon River)


(The Mediterranean during a break from the rain)

Read more in Miranda's blog A Year In Israel 


Getting ready to travel">Getting ready to travel

Posted December 17th, 2017

by Rebecca Gutman, MITF (Bat Yam)


Well the last couple weeks we have certainly been kept busy. Lots of teaching and seeing the children reach new milestones in their reading.


We did a review the other day of everything they had learnt so far and it was amazing at how much they remembered. It was a little bit of a slow start for them but now they are picking it up as fast as we are putting down.


The schools here do is safety day. Basically, for a week the students go over road safety and talk about police and paramedics.


Then at our school there was a period where the police and paramedics were brought in to show what they do. They gave some pretty exhilarating demonstrations for the students. Some of the pupils also got to dress in full SWAT gear to see how it feels.


Something really cool that has gone on the last couple of days is Yom HaMorah (or teacher’s appreciation day). This isn’t something we have back home but it is basically a day dedicated to the hard work the teacher’s here put in for their students. On Sunday, our school invited us to attend a dinner in honour of the teachers. It was such a fun experience to see our co-workers outside of school. It was such a relaxed and fun atmosphere.


They had a slideshow where they secretly asked family members to right something for each of the teacher’s and include a picture. It was really sweet, they did one for us as well. They also had a comedian come in. As you know there have been some construction issues at my school, so they made light of the situation. It was so nice to see everyone let loose and just laugh at themselves. Also, this was all done in Hebrew, and Marni and I held our own…


After the comedy show it was time for dessert and DANCING! We had a lot of fun letting loose and I’ve learned that not much changes once you leave Bar/Bat Mitzvah age. You still gather in a circle and dance with each other, and shove people into the middle to show off their moves.


On Monday, it was the in-school appreciation day. The school had set up a red carpet for the teachers to walk where they were awarded a medal of honour. For the morning, there was no school for the first 2 periods. The parents came to supervise the students while the teachers got a morning of food, fun and relaxation. All the parents brought in breakfast and pastries for the teachers. There was also hair braiding, manicures and massages!


Tonight, is the first night of Hanukah which means for the last couple of weeks we have been feasting on Suffganiot and Latkes galore.


What this also means is that we have a school break, which means travel time for me! So right now, as I’m writing this I am also packing my bags to get ready to leave super early in the morning (I’m talking 3am early). I won’t spoil my destinations. It just means you have to keep checking in here.




Read more from Rebecca’s blog Teaching Abroad 101


DAY 96. Erica Weiner, MITF (Beit She'an)">DAY 96. Erica Weiner, MITF (Beit She'an)

Posted December 17th, 2017

My lesson this week is all about Hanukkah! I made a great poster! I had 5th and 4th grade lessons today. We discussed how I celebrate Hanukkah in the States with my family and how they celebrate in Beit She’an with their family. It was interesting trying to tell them that I usually say “nes gadol haya sham” (a big miracle happened there) while they say “nes gadol haya po” (a big miracle happened here). It was a bit of a confusing concept for them. Eventually they understand that only people in Israel say “here” because that is where the miracle happened! I taught them the English words for doughnuts, potato pancakes (fun fact: latkes is actually Yiddush!), candles, and dreidels (yes, that one is Yiddush). We also made Hanukkah cards to give to their family. I had weaker students during one of my lessons with the 5th grade boys. One of my students didn’t know how to write his name in English but I taught him! He wrote his card to his Mom and Dad, the content is in Hebrew, BUT he was able to sign his card in English so that was amazing. My other student wrote his card to his Grandma. They were both very excited to give them to their family members next week.

So many students told me today that this was the best English lesson they have ever had!


I was in such a holiday mood, I went to the grocery store and bought potatoes. I came home and made latkes! They were delicious!

I went to the community center tonight and 14 children came to come cook with me! On tonight’s menu: pizza! A crowd favorite. It was so much fun! The kids all asked if I was coming back tomorrow to teach them something new to make.

Overall, today was a good day.

Read more from Erica's blog - Erica's Journey



Posted December 6th, 2017

by Miranda Wall-Franklin, Tel Aviv University International MA in Conflict Resolution & Mediation


Despite a myriad of poor reviews, I decided to take the chance and fly WOW Air from SFO to TLV. I purchased the "Plus" package, which included 1 personal item of up to 22 lbs, 1 carry-on of up to 26 lbs, and 1 checked bag of up to 44 lbs. All this for $350 one way. Not bad! I flew from San Francisco to Reykjavik and then Reykjavik to Tel Aviv with a total travel time of about 20 hours. The reviews I read told horror stories of last minute canceled flights, but both of the legs left on time and arrived early.
I even got the chance to visit Keflavik, a small town outside of Reykjavik International Airport, during my layover.
I arrived at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv at 4am, feeling exhausted (I don’t sleep well on airplanes).
The public transportation in Tel Aviv is amazing! From the airport, I hopped on the Nahariyya train to Tel Aviv Universitiy station. 
The station is right across the street from Broshim dorms, where I’m staying, but there are 88 uphill steps from the train to campus. Everyone I talked to recommended that I take a bus, but I stubbornly refused. About halfway up the stairs, lugging my 2 bags and large suitcase, a kind Israeli offered to help me with my suitcase. He effortlessly heaved it on his shoulders and carried it the rest of the way. He asked, “What are you studying?” I said, “Conflict resolution.” He replied without hesitation: “You will learn very quickly that there is no solution but to fight them [Palestinians]. They want us all dead.” Welcome to Israel, I thought. 
Read more in Miranda's blog A Year In Israel 

Neta Huja">Neta Huja