"This program is inspired by the thousands of young Jewish adults who travel to Israel looking to give back to Israeli society, says Aaron Goldberg, Director of Marketing and Communications for MASA. "It represents an incredible personal and professional opportunity for these young adults, but also opportunities for Israeli students to learn English from native speakers and to build bridges between Jewish communities in North America and Israel."
According to Goldberg, this is the first large-scale program of its kind, specifically working within the Israeli educational system. MASA is taking its cue from other successful educator volunteer programs working in different countries across the globe, such as in Korea, France, and Chile.
In a press release, MASA outlined the plan for the fellows: ‘’Following an initial training period, the Teaching Fellows will live in small groups in communities in Israel and teach for 20 hours a week. The Teaching Fellows will also choose and design secondary volunteer projects in their communities. Ongoing pedagogical support, Hebrew Ulpan, host families, and trips will be provided throughout their time in Israel.’’
The response to the program has been overwhelmingly positive. Almost 200 prospective candidates applied for the fellowship, and MASA is currently sorting through the applications to make the best decisions for both the applicants and the schools in Israel. Aside from just the young adults, however, communities and campuses have welcomed the program with enthusiasm.
The goals of this program are many and the effects of it will probably extend beyond the expected objectives. The students who get to work with the fellows will gain from learning English from native English speakers, and receive more personal attention than they would otherwise get in their classrooms. The fellows themselves will also be able to broaden their educator experiences and developing themselves as leaders while giving back to Israeli society.
This is not MASA’s only volunteer program. In addition to their scholarships for year-long study in Israel, MASA hosts seminars for leadership skills, events for students learning in Israel, and helps build a community of North American students spending a year in Israel. This particular program is being subsidized and supported by the Jewish Federations of North America and Keren Hayesod-UIA.
MASA Israel Teaching Fellowship will run its first year from August 2011 through June 2012. The 10 month program costs $1,000 and includes flights, housing, living stipend, teacher training conducted by the Israeli Ministry of Education and more. To find out more, go to www.israelteachingfellows.org