The Jewish Federation of San Diego County is proud to partner with MASA Israel Teaching Fellows (MITF), a program of the Jewish Agency for Israel. Jane Fantel, Director of Israel and Overseas, had the opportunity to meet with Emily Gould from Scripps Ranch, San Diego, when she was in Israel last May. Emily agreed to be interviewed for this article.
Jane: How did you first hear about the MASA Israel Teaching Fellows program?
Emily: MASA actually contacted me. I learned about the program through an email from them.
Jane: What made you want to participate in this program?
Emily: After I graduated, I decided I wanted to teach English abroad somewhere, but I wasn’t set on a destination. Once I heard about MASA, I knew it would be the perfect opportunity to teach and go back to Israel.
Jane: What was it like for you to be a MITF?
Emily: Being an MITF was a really unique and life changing experience. I had the best year with the kids at school not only teaching them a new language, but also learning one myself, and stepping outside of my comfort zone by living in a country that is so different from my own.
Jane: What were your responsibilities?
Emily: My responsibilities included taking small groups of children (about 3-4 kids) from grades 4-6 during their English lessons and working with them on areas where they required more help (i.e., speaking and pronunciation, spelling, and grammar).
Jane: What surprised you the most?
Emily: I was surprised by how eager the children were to learn English. Even the pupils who struggled tried so hard to speak English to communicate with me and it was really heartwarming.
Jane: What changed for you?
Emily: A lot changed for me. Not only my view of Israel and Israelis, but also myself and the way that I do things in my own life now.
Jane: What value did you get out of the program?
Emily: The program was invaluable to me. I became an MITF because I wanted a big, albeit temporary, change in my life. However, being on the program this past year has actually given me a lot of permanent life skills.
Jane: What did you learn?
Emily: I learned not only a lot about Israel and its culture and people, but also a new language (Hebrew), as well as many things about myself and what I am capable of.
Jane: What are you going to do with that knowledge?
Emily: I hope to use this knowledge to be more active and less passive in my own life, and positively impact the lives of others.
Jane: What is the one new idea you are walking away with?
Emily: One new idea that I’m walking away with is the notion that I don’t have to be so afraid of failure. You learn from your experiences, good and bad, and as long as you change the mistakes of your past, things tend to work out in the end.
Jane: Now that you’re back in San Diego, how would you like to connect with the San Diego Jewish community?
Emily: Now that I’m back in San Diego, I would like to connect with the Jewish community by getting more involved in Jewish and pro-Israel organizations.
Programs like this are made possible by generous support from Federation donors. On behalf of Emily and the hundreds of MASA Israel Teaching Fellows, thank you.