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Bridging the Gap

Today’s blog post was written by Joe Tricot, a Yahel Social Change Fellow living, learning and volunteering for 9 months in Lod, Israel.

The beauty of having the opportunity to spend considerable time in distant places is that it enables your internal bird's-eye view. In my experience so far as a fellow with Yahel and getting involved in the Arab-Israeli and Ethiopian communities, perspectives and assumptions from biases are constantly challenged. You learn things about the diverse local population with each piece of information breeding more curiosity, and for many, or at least including me, the realization of how much I don’t know or how much I was wrong about (like discovering Brooklyn isn’t the center of the world).

I’m fortunate to have the opportunity this year to get in the weeds of several different projects, including English education and coding training. I’m meeting people from all walks of life and taking the time to learn about where they come from, what they’re doing here, and where they’re going. That allows me to be able to assess my own set of values in the form of spurring perpetual doubt of who I am or what I know.

Joe volunteering with Lior at Tech Career, an organization in Lod that works to open the door to careers in tech for young Ethiopian Israelis.

And maybe that’s a blessing.

Because uncertainty is the breeding ground for understanding, growth and non-judgmental behavior. Conflict usually stems from parties digging in their heels as oppose to maintaining a healthy balance of self-doubt & self-assurance.

Uncertainty paves the way toward the openness needed to interact positively with the wide swath of Israeli citizens; in my case, mainly the Arab and Ethiopian communities. It reminds me to not impose “best” practices I utilized back home on others and avoid playing the role of white savior treating underserved communities like tourist attractions.

Uncertainty reminds me to never be satisfied and to keep innovating for new ways to transfer knowledge or breakthrough to the people I work with by establishing better communication.

Uncertainty reminds me to keep moving so that I can accept whatever is coming my way; to listen first, understand, and only then try and play my role as a volunteer among this incredible group of fellow fellows to bridge gaps and influence social progress.

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