For senior Aleah Steinzeig, Israel is a part of her heritage and her family history.
Growing up, Steinzeig heard about the year her mother spent in Israel during a study abroad-type program in college and has always hoped to do the same.
Steinzeig who is a literature major with a double minor in creative writing and sociology, will soon get her chance.
In August, she will be off to Israel to teach English to elementary school-age group children in Rehovot, near Tel Aviv.
“For me this is a life-long dream come true,” said Steinzeig, who has been to Israel once before, eight years ago.
Travel safety warnings prevented her from going to Israel in a study abroad program while in school, so she began looking for opportunities that would take her to Israel post-graduation.
After conducting Internet research, Steinzeig came across the Israel Teaching Fellows, and a program called Ma’ase Olam, which works to put volunteers in positions where they can help educate Israeli students who may not otherwise receive the same level of education.
Steinzeig explained that the goal of the program was “to close the achievement gap” that is apparent in Israeli schools.
By January, Steinzeig had applied and by the end of February, she had been interviewed and selected to be a part of the program.
Though Steinzeig will not meet face to face with the other post-college graduates who are participating in the program until she flies to Israel in August, they have all met each other on Skype. Steinzeig and the other 21 teachers have monthly seminars online to help them prepare.
Once in Israel, they will receive teacher and intensive language training before going into the classroom. Although Steinzeig knows some Hebrew, she is excited to better her skills.
On a personal level, Steinzeig said she wants to “give a little bit if myself to Israel” and that she hoped to bring a little bit of Israel back home.
During the 10 months that she will be away, she will be in the classroom for 25 hours a week, in addition to community service hours and guided excursions.
“For a lot of people, Israel is an exotic location,” Steinzeig said.
Her family and friends have been supportive, though, and some family hopes to visit her in Israel during her stay.
Once back in the United States, Steinzeig hopes to come back to Pacific University to complete her masters of arts in teaching degree and then to teach middle school English.