Originally from Houston, Texas Ariel came to Israel to teach English to Israeli students in Petah Tikva on a 10 month MITF program. After hitting the halfway mark of her program, she shared with us some insights into her journey thus far

 

Q: What is your full name, where you are from, university, and city/program you are on?

 

My name is Ariel Krause and I am from Houston, Texas. I studied Biomedical Engineering at Washington University in St Louis and I am currently participating in the Masa Israel Teaching Fellows Program in Petach Tikva.

 

Q: What made you come to Israel, Petah Tikva specifically?

 

There were a couple of things that motivated me to come: 1. I was feeling very safe and comfortable back home and felt stuck in a place of fear so I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and give something new a chance; 2. I wanted to immerse myself in a new culture; 3. I wanted to reconnect with my Judaism and experience true Israeli society (not just what I saw on Birthright)

 

Choosing PTK was actually pretty random. I wanted to be somewhere close to Tel Aviv, so that automatically narrowed down cities. And then when it came down to it, I really resonated with the participant in the PTK video on the Masa page. It just felt like the right place for me, so I went for it.

 

Q: What is your favorite moment this far in your journey?

 

Gosh, picking a favorite moment is so tough. I feel like I am continually experiencing new moments that are special and memorable. But I guess a moment that sums up my experience pretty well is a random encounter I had with a young Israeli couple I met on a bus I took from Tel Aviv to Migdal Haemek before Hanukkah break. I was visiting an Israeli friend who I met a few years ago in Portland for Shabbat. She had told me the bus stop to get off at, but my phone died and the bus didn’t have any chargers so I was planning to wing it.. About half way through the ride I turned around and asked a young couple sitting behind me how much longer it would be to Migdal Haemek. A simple question turned into the most wonderful hour long conversation and then when we got to Migdal Haemek they offered to take me directly to my friends. We made a quick stop at their apartment first to charge my phone and have tea. It was so spontaneous and amazing and warmed my heart. I’ll never forget sitting on their patio outside and talking about the differences between Israeli and American society. This is just one of the many moments where I’ve received help from strangers and experienced such genuine warmth and deep connection.

 

Q: What has your experience been like so far?

 

Man, another tough one. It’s so hard to put my experience into words. Being here in Israel is electrifying. The people are warm and welcoming and make me feel appreciated and understood. The kids are full of love and energy and there is a huge emphasis on family. The program has given me the perfect balance of independence and support. It is structured while at the same time unstructured. I feel like I am able to make my experience my own and get involved things that are most important to me. In just five months, I have managed to travel all over Israel. I also took a trip to Jordan during Hanukkah. Being in Israel has given me a clarity I was struggling to find at home. I have a deeper sense of who I am, what I want, and what is important to me. It has definitely put things into perspective and made me stronger and more independent.

 

Q: Any advice for future MITFers?

 

Don’t set any expectations for yourself or the program. Don’t expect things to be super well defined. Come with an open mind and an open heart. Take charge of situations and make them your own.  Israeli culture and society is very different than what you are used to at home. It’s much more unorganized and chaotic, which can be difficult at times, but just keep that in mind and learn to embrace it. That’s what makes the experience so beautiful!

 

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