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North American youth here to work with young leaders
By SHIRA FRAGER
07/27/2011
Exceptional 10th- and 11th- graders part of the 3-week Diller Teen Fellows program, partners the Americans with Israeli counterparts to work on initiatives within their respective communities.
 
More than 100 teens from six North American communities are currently traversing Israel – but not as part of a Birthright journey.

The exceptional 10th- and 11th- graders are part of the three-week Diller Teen Fellows program, which partners the Americans and Canadians with Israeli counterparts to work on initiatives within their respective communities.

The students participate in educational training, weekend retreats and a 10-day North American seminar, culminating in the summer program with their sister communities and teen counterparts. Student partnerships include San Francisco/the Upper Galilee, Boston/Haifa, Los Angeles/Tel Aviv, Pittsburgh/Karmiel and the Lower Galilee’s Misgav region, Montreal/Beersheba and Bnei Shimon, and MetroWest, New Jersey/Rishon Lezion.

Doria Charleson, a Diller Fellow alumna who works as a junior counselor on the program, said, “For me it was my first encounter with Israel in a way that was meaningful.

There’s a practical [aspect], I learned very real skills about leadership and about what kind of person I wanted to be...and how I can improve myself as a leader for the people around me.”

The program was established by San Francisco Bay Area philanthropist Helen Diller in 1997. She created groundbreaking programs in a broad range of priority areas, including youth, education, the elderly, the arts, medical research, leadership development and Israel.

“These young teens are our future. We need to invest in them, show them that they can lead us and help repair the world,” Diller said in a statement. “It fills me with pride to know that these teens will unite under the banner of peoplehood, learning to guide the next generation in meaningful pursuits during this inspiring trip to Israel.”
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