I chose to participate in Otzma at the age of 23 because it had everything I wanted in an experience abroad.
During the first part of the program, I lived in northern Israel with other Otzma participants and volunteered at the Nazeret Elite absorption center with new Israeli immigrants.
With my economics degree and business interests, I was in heaven. Living in a development town, I acclimated to day-to-day life with the help of the locals, while learning about how they got to Israel, what made them want to come in the first place, and what skills they expected to use to find a better life for their children.
Three months later, I headed to MetroWest’s partner town of Ofakim, 20 minutes south of Be’er Sheva, with two other Otzma participants from MetroWest. While settling into Ofakim life, I learned about the Moroccan immigrants who had developed the town in the 1950s and immersed myself in their culture.
For the last part of Otzma, I was in Tel Aviv, where I was the only Otzma participant interning with the Reut Institute, an Israeli policy group/economic think-tank. As a research fellow for its socio-economic team, I conducted strategic analysis on the Israeli economy to figure out how Israel can remain a global competitor.
Otzma was a history, economic development, and business lesson in one. With the freedom to design my own experience, I made an effort to incorporate my business background and economic curiosity into my volunteer work and internship. My “planning” began even during my interview with the MetroWest office, when I was told about a group of local women in Ofakim who desperately needed help with their catering company. Otzma enabled me to give back to my community in Israel, where I was needed the most, while fulfilling my personal career goals.