US delegation members at David Ben-Gurion's grave.
(photo credit: Yonatan Barkan)
A delegation of 13 representatives from leading universities and study abroad
programs in the United States arrived in Israel for a weeklong visit, geared
toward developing new study abroad collaborations with Israeli
Masa Israel Journey, a partnership between the Jewish
Agency and the government, organized the visit along with the Foreign
While in Israel, the delegation, comprised of deans and study
abroad directors, will visit the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv
University, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Ben-Gurion University of
the Negev, the University of Haifa, Bar-Ilan University, and the
Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya, meeting with top administrators and
international student coordinators.
“Our goal in organizing this
delegation is to significantly expand the number of students spending a semester
or a year at Israel’s leading academic institutions.
This initiative will
strengthen the students’ connections to Israel while bolstering Israeli academia
and the Israeli economy,” said Liran Avisar Ben Horin, Masa’s chief executive
The delegation includes representatives from Brandeis
University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Emory University,
Georgetown University, Princeton University, Stanford University, Tulane
University, the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Michigan,
the University of Virginia, and Yale University, as well as the director of
education abroad programs for the Institute for International Education
“We organized this group to create new avenues for study abroad,”
J. Scott Van Der Meid, assistant dean of academic services and director of study
abroad at Brandeis University and co- leader of the delegation, told The
“Israel has so many possibilities for students unseen in
other countries. It is such a vibrant country; however, many of these
opportunities have flown under the radar. By bringing this delegation to Israel
and highlighting all the different opportunities, universities can see the
myriad of options here and decide what program works best for their prospective
schools,” he said.
In addition to visiting higher learning institutions,
the officials will also tour several hi-tech and innovation hubs and will visit
Masa programs including a social justice volunteering and internship program in
Tel Aviv, an Arabic program at the Givat Haviva center for Arab-Jewish
coexistence, and internship programs at the Peres Center for Peace, the Foreign
Ministry and Hadassah Medical Center.
“Technology is a huge motivation
behind studying abroad in Israel. They are the ‘Start-up Nation.’ I believe that
there is a value to studying in such a technologically advanced society. They
are constantly thinking outside of the box.
After spending just two days
here, I can see there is a wealth of knowledge our students can take from a
semester or year here,” said Craig Rinker, director of Overseas Studies at
The trip will conclude with a summit aimed at
developing ideas for new study abroad programs in Israel in partnership with
“America’s top universities are looking to
strengthen their connections to Israel beyond anything that has existed until
now, and this remarkable initiative by Masa Israel Journey will translate that
desire into new programs and new opportunities,” stated Nathan Sharansky,
chairman of the executive of the Jewish Agency.
According to the IIE’s
2013 Open Doors data, 283,332 US students studied abroad during the 2011-2012
academic year. Of those who went abroad, 3,189 chose to study in Israel, placing
the country 18th in IIE’s ranking of top study abroad destinations.
at the Jewish Agency have made bringing young people to Israel a cornerstone of
our activities, and we look forward to welcoming ever more American students to
experience everything that Israel has to offer,” added Sharansky.
which recently celebrated its 10th year and its 86,000th participant, provides
5-10 month experiences ranging from academic studies and professional
internships to Jewish study programs and athletic training
According to an agency press release, a record 11,000 young
people participated in more than 200 Masa programs this year.Allyson
Freedman contributed to this report.