Making a Medical Impact throughout the Middle East

My name is Ilana Polster, and I am an incoming freshman studying International Relations at Princeton University. I graduated high school early and spent the second half of my senior year volunteering abroad in Morocco. I returned home when my three-month visa expired, but decided that I wanted to continue volunteering abroad before heading to college.

I spent the past summer working towards my Emergency Medical Technician license with the plan of volunteering in ambulances overseas. After my experience in Morocco, I was relatively certain that I wanted to return to the Middle East. I initially chose Israel purely for language reasons – I have a decent comprehension of Hebrew, and communication plays a central role in ambulance work. Through Career Israel, I am able to intern with Magen David Adom (ambulance service).

In my past few months with MDA, I have been able to see a wider spectrum of the Israeli population than most of my friends. I like being able to get an unvarnished view of the country and its issues, and feel like I have learned just as much about the social and political situation in Israel as about its healthcare system. Also, there really is nothing like riding an ambulance down a highway at 4 a.m. while blasting techno music.

As a nineteen-year-old, I can’t really tell you what my career path will be. I am very interested in the relationships and negotiations between countries, and hope to work in some kind of international field, possibly with a focus on the Middle East. For this reason, I really enjoyed Masa Israel’s Security and Diplomacy seminar. It was a great way to learn more about regional issues and to work on negotiation skills.

Unlike many of my friends on Career Israel, making aliyah (at least immediately) was never an option for me – I still have four years of college to complete. As the end of my program approaches, I know that I will leave Israel. And I also know that I’ll be back.

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