This blog is part of the Yahel Alumni Spotlight Series, where we catch up with past Yahel participants to hear about their experiences on Yahel and what they’re up to now.
3 years ago Rachel Iroff came to Israel on the Yahel Social Change Fellowship to live, learn and volunteer. Recently we caught up with her and discussed her reflections on Israel and how her time on Yahel has continued to impact her.
Yahel: Which program were you on and where?
Rachel: I was on the 2015-2016 Yahel Social Change Fellowship in Lod (the first year Yahel was in Lod)
Yahel: What're you doing now? Rachel: I'm a clinical social worker at an inpatient psychiatric hospital in Nashville, TN. This means that when adults (18+) have some behavioral differences, detox, dementia flare up, medication problems, etc they are admitted to the psychiatric hospital. I am a member of the treatment team and work to ensure the patient's success after discharge, ie housing, transportation, medicine, etc. I also update and support families, as well as leading process and social skills groups.
Yahel: What did you do while on the program? Rachel: While on the fellowship, I learned so much about what makes Israel such a vibrantly busy, outspoken, and loving country, taught English at Jewish elementary school, helped young adult center with grants and marketing, visited an elderly woman, and helped members of the local government learn English.
Yahel: Biggest Take Away from the program? Rachel: My biggest take away from Yahel was that people are people no matter where you are and need the same love and respect. No matter who or where a person lives, we just want to be respected and actually heard.
Yahel: How did you bring what you learned on Yahel back home with you? Career wise? Personally? Rachel: I became a social worker! Originally, I was thinking of doing more research based work or teaching. Yahel brought me in touch with actual humans needing to be heard and I fell in love with learning and listening.
I also realized that I can do so much more than I thought. College taught me to be almost independent, but Yahel sealed it. I learned how to stand up for myself and others, and that I can not only survive but thrive in a new culture. Yahel: Favorite Yahel moment? Rachel: Going on tours of the Bedouin communities and having open discussions with members. I knew very little about this population and now I tell anyone I can about their vibrant culture and their need to be recognized!