This blog is part of the Yahel Alumni Spotlight Series, where we catch up with past Yahel participants to hear about their experience with Yahel and what they’re up to now.
It’s been for 6 years since alumna Samantha Sisisky came to Israel to volunteer with Yahel. We recently caught up with Samantha to hear about her experiences on Yahel and how Yahel has continued to impact her 6 years later.
Y: Which program and location were you based in?
S: Yahel Social Change Fellowship, Gedera, 2012-2013
Y:What're you doing now?
S: I'm the Director of Community Engagement, Mid-Atlantic for BBYO, the leading pluralistic Jewish teen youth movement.
Y: What did you do volunteer-wise on the Yahel Social Change Fellowship?
S: I taught at a school, worked in a non-profit office, tutored with Homework at Home, helped tutor older adults in Hebrew, among many other things.
Y: What was your biggest take away from the program?
S: The more I learned about different segments of the Israeli population, the more connected I felt to the country as a whole. Even when seeing many social issues and problems that I didn't know about previously, I felt more connected and invested in the betterment of the country for all of its citizens.
Y: How did you bring what you learned on Yahel back home with you? Career wise? Personally?
S: Since returning to the US, I have worked in the Jewish community professionally, and I'm not sure I would have done that without my Yahel experience. I also learned how to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations because of my time in Yahel.
Y: Favorite Yahel moment?
S: Our end of year project was a cultural festival in the neighborhood called Desta Fest (desta means happiness in Amharic). It was incredible to see people of all ages in the neighborhood come out to celebrate Ethiopian culture--even a bus full of Birthright participants came by, which was crazy!