Tasha is a current fellow with the Yahel Social Change Fellowship 2019-2020 cohort, living and volunteering in Lod. Here, she gives us some insight into the experience of a Yahel fellow:
Tell us a bit about yourself - where are you from and what did you study in school?
I’m from Xenia, OH and went to school at Wright State University in Dayton, OH. I got my undergraduate degree in French and did my MBA in international business. Before Yahel, I studied abroad in Belgium, France, Spain, Tanzania, and China where I had the opportunity to participate in other service-learning projects, primarily teaching English and working with kids.
What is some of the work you're doing right now through Yahel?
I’m currently volunteering at four different placements in Lod. I’m an English tutor for 4th-6th graders at Ram Bam, a religious co-ed elementary school. I help plan after-school English activities for the same age group with Potchim Atid, which works with students from varying backgrounds at Levi Eshkol school. I also teach evening English classes at Tesfa, an evening program for Eritrean kids. Last but not least, I am a resource development intern at Fidel, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing educational and social support to the Ethiopian Jewish community.
What is something you've felt excited about in your Yahel experience so far?
I’m excited to continue delving into the topic of identity: what it is, what its purpose is, who defines it, who has the privilege of defining it, etc. It has been an incredible experience meeting people from so many different communities throughout Israel and the conversations we’ve shared have given me a lot of food for thought. I’m also very much looking forward to the Negev seminar because it’s an area of Israel I know very little about and I’m excited to learn more about the communities there.
What is something you've been motivated or inspired by since you arrived in Israel for the fellowship?
Lately, I’ve been particularly inspired by the experience of simultaneously being a teacher and a student. It has been really fun to use some of the activities that I’ve found helpful for myself learning Hebrew to help my students learn English. I’m motivated by their vulnerability and desire to learn. It inspires me to be the best teacher I can for them. Likewise, our Ulpan teacher Mayaan inspires me and the other fellows to push our own limits and believe in ourselves because she believes in us and we all want to make her proud. I think it is extremely humbling to be able to experience both perspectives and I hope it makes me both a better teacher and a better student.
Do you have any observations about life in Lod, a very unique city in Israel?
Something interesting about Lod is the diversity you can see just walking down the street. On my route home on a given day it’s possible to hear any combination of Russian, Arabic, Amharic, English, Spanish, Tigrinya, and Hebrew. Of course, there can be difficulties with so many different cultures residing in one place, but I love seeing members of the different communities, especially the kids, sharing space and living together. There is always something to learn in Lod!
We're so proud of the work Tasha is doing and her open-minded approach. Stay tuned for more updates and reflections from our passionate cohort!