Toda Raba, Israel.

Now that I have had a couple of days to reflect on my experience in Israel with my team, the single most overwhelming feeling is that of gratitude. Gratitude at having the opportunity to experience Israel and the Israeli culture first hand, with the best team that one could ever ask for.

There were so many memorable moments during the trip that it is hard to pick just one. The one thing that this trip did though was that it blew away my pre-conceived notions of what it would be to live and work in Israel. Without ever having set foot in Israel, I did not know what to expect other than what I had gleaned from mainstream media. And that picture is not always flattering. Friends cautioned me to be ‘careful’ since its a ‘dangerous’ part of the world. Others well-intentionally joked that I should find a way to escape if I run into a bunch of radical religious folks on the streets (the ill-conceived notion being that Ultra-orthodox Jewish men in their black coats and black hats roam the streets of Israel trying to convert lost tourists.) While these arose mostly out of ignorance and over-simplification of what is portrayed in media about Israel and Middle East in general, I can see why it might be tempting, if intellectually lazy, to paint Israel with the same brush as some of its significantly more conservative neighbors.

My trip revealed the reality in vivid detail. Living in Israel is a wonderful, vibrant, peaceful, cosmopolitan, enriching and delightful experience. Roaming around the streets of Tel Aviv, you will be forgiven to think you might be in the neighborhood of Kendall Square. The warmth of the people, the directness of their conversations, the instant ability of an Israeli to become friends for life – all these make it very hard to not want to go back. And go back, I will.

I hope many will have the opportunity to experience Israel and Israeli culture first hand. It’s an experience that must be lived. I am grateful to MIT, MISTI & Israel Lab for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. And oh, all the wonderful memories…

 

So long <3

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