Danielle Penny - MITF with Israel Experience
My experience with Israel Experience and Masa Israel Teaching Fellows in Haifa has been extremely rewarding. In many ways, this program has exceeded my expectations, including those I had set for myself. Living so far from home for the first time, and in Israel specifically has been very challenging but has taught me so many valuable life lessons.
Originally, my main interest in this program was experiencing life abroad knowing that housing and income wouldn’t be a big concern. Working with children was really just an afterthought or something I would need to put up with to partake in the program. Now, however, I can genuinely say that the kids I work with have become the best part of this program for me, watching them succeed and have fun learning English has become a great source of pride.
Learning Hebrew and Teaching English
Learning Hebrew and seeing the kids work hard to learn English has made me exceptionally empathetic to those learning a foreign language anywhere and has reinforced the values I already held to be patient and understand that these things do not come easily to everyone.
I’ve become much more skilled with relating to people despite language barriers and other challenges, which is a skill I plan to use in my professional life at home, where I am involved in politics. It’s extremely beneficial for me in this field to always be able to find common ground or friendship with those I may at first feel I have little in common with.
As previously stated, I did not go into this program particularly enthralled by the idea of working with children. In fact, in the past, I would always describe myself as “not a kid person”. This idea about myself has changed entirely. Now, in fact, I would go as far as saying I love working with kids and have considered a change in my career path to better suit this new passion.
The fun side of this program has also been amazing for me. I met really amazing people who I hope to stay in contact with beyond our year here, who have truly made this experience unforgettable. Our madricha, Sima, really listens to us and puts forth a lot of effort to make sure we are having fun and meaningful activities that reflect our interests.
There are so many activities and events we are included in outside of our Masa Sunday activities. Sima always keeps us updated on events in Haifa so we really have a chance to explore this amazing city and immerse ourselves in Israeli culture.
In addition, the bigger Masa events such as the opening event, Shabbatons, and a few random events such as karaoke night and others in Tel Aviv have been really fun and amazing opportunities for us to go out, have fun, and meet other fellows from around Israel.
As a host city, I could not be more grateful that I chose Haifa. When choosing a city, my criteria included a beach and a large enough city that there was always something to do. Haifa goes beyond checking those boxes for me. The stunning beaches have become my favorite place to spend a day in the warmer months. There is so much to do in Haifa including some amazing bars, restaurants and cafes, beautiful markets and parks, and much more. This amazing city has more to offer than I could have imagined.
Going into this program I had never been to Haifa and knew nothing about it, specifically how diverse of a city it is. I am filled with pride to live in a place that is known for embracing diversity the way Haifa is. The blend of cultures here has been extremely fulfilling and eye-opening to experience.
I will be forever grateful for my opportunity to partake in this program- specifically in Haifa.