Alum in the Cleveland Jewish News!

Published in the Cleveland Jewish News on October 2.

Ilana Polster, who graduated early, in 2011, from Shaker Heights High School and is a freshman at Princeton University in New Jersey, is back in the United States following eight months of volunteer work, including three in Morocco and five in Israel.

Both Shaker Heights residents have shared new insight from their journeys.

Polster brought back lessons from her eight months abroad.

“I graduated high school early and spent the second half of my senior year volunteering abroad in Morocco,” Polster wrote for the Career Israel blog. “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.”

In Israel, Polster volunteered for Magen David Adom ambulance services. Polster, who is studying international relations at Princeton, is one of 1,200 young adults placed in internships through the Career Israel project of the Israel Experience Ltd.

Read more in Cleveland Jewish News.

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Saving Lives in Israel

Hello, my name is Maddison Martin. I am 22 years old and was born and raised in Huntington Beach, California. I went to the University of California, Santa Barbara, where I earned a degree is psychology. After participating in Birthright Israel in January, I knew I wanted to come back and spend more time in Israel.  I enrolled in the Career Israel internship program because I wanted the chance to live abroad, gain international work experience, and live in a place where I feel like I belong.

Growing up, I attended Hebrew school and Sunday school once a week until Bat Mitzvah age, but I never really felt part of the Jewish community for some reason. On Birthright, it was amazing for me to see how many people were Jewish around me. I finally didn’t feel like the minority, and I knew I must return to Israel because 10 days did not seem like a long enough time to get to know the country.

I have my EMT at home and have been an Ocean Lifeguard for seven years. I have always been interested in the emergency medical field and.  On Career Israel, I intern with Magen David Adom (MDA) on ambulances.  So far I love this internship! It has showed me that I truly do want to become a paramedic, and I wouldn’t have known that for sure without this experience.

One particular memory comes to mind when I think of  my internship at MDA. My first CPR ever was with another girl who went through the training program with me. It was an amazing experience, and I will never forget how we worked as a team to perform CPR and life-savings skills. I saw everything one could possibly see in that one call. Because of this experience I have confidence in myself doing anything that might happen while volunteering on the ambulance.

Another thing about Career Israel that I love is that we go on overnight trips every few weeks. My favorite trip has been the North Trip to the Golan Heights and the Kinneret. We hiked, met Arab-Israeli students, and went to the beautiful city of Tsfat. Seeing the beauty that Israel has to offer really shows me that I made the correct decision in coming on Career Israel.

Without a scholarship from the Orange County Federation, an interest free loan from the Los Angeles Federation, and the Masa grant, I would not have been able to  be a part of this wonderful program.

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.

Giving Patients One-on-One Care in Israel

My name is Blair Funk.  I am from Livingston, NJ, and I graduated from the University of Miami in 2011 with a degree in Chemistry and Psychology. This coming August, I will be attending Medical School at the University of Miami, so I had a few months to take some time to travel and do something to gain hands on experience through the Career Israel internship program. I came to Israel because I fell in love with the country when I spent three months here during high school. I always knew I wanted to come back, so I took a year off from my education in order to gain some more experience in the medical field while spending time in my favorite place.

With that in mind, I decided to volunteer with Magen David Adom as a first care provider on ambulances. One thing I love about the people I work with in the ambulances is their dedication to their job. No matter what kind of call it is, from a CPR call, to an elderly lady with a back ache, the ambulance drivers and paramedics treat the patients with compassion and patience. Having seen and taken part in caring for patients in such a compassionate manner, I know I will be able to continue this type of care when I go back to medical school in the US.  I would not have been able to come to Israel and learn so much about patient care had it not been for Career Israel.

My favorite trip we went on as a group was the trip to the North. It was amazing to get out of the hustle and bustle of Tel Aviv for three days to go hiking on the beautiful trails Israel has to offer.