Transferring knowledge from Israel to the world

That is when I understood that I had already made an impact during my first month of work.

By MICHAEL YEHUDA
July 8, 2019 21:15
3 minute read.
Transferring knowledge from Israel to the world

Students at Tel Aviv University. (photo credit: MICHAL ROCHE – BEN AMI)

On January 1, 2019, I was sitting in my apartment in Waltham, Massachusetts, thinking about what to do next in my life. But after graduating from college with three master’s degrees in Sustainable International Development, Conflict Resolution and Coexistence and Business Administration, I knew one thing: I wanted to work in the international realm and directly impact communities all over the world. As a native-born Ethiopian who lived in Israel and the US and traveled to many countries, I got the chance to meet and hear the stories of many different people in different parts of the world. I wanted to give back to the international community that had provided me with diverse insights.

After I completed my schooling in the US, I was initially not sure whether I wanted to return to Israel or stay in the US and work. As an Israeli citizen, I wanted to return back to Israel and create an impact using the resources in Israel. However, I was not sure if there would be Israeli organizations that would allow me to accomplish my goal. After months of deliberation, I decided to move back to Israel and search for jobs in the international sphere. During my search, I came across the Foreign Ministry division, Israeli Agency for International Cooperation (MASHAV).

MASHAV, Israel’s official international development cooperation program, was launched in late 1957 with the aim of sharing its entrepreneurial knowhow and technology – innovations that contributed to Israel’s own rapid development with the rest of the world. MASHAV began to gain significant traction when Golda Meir, who was the foreign minister at the time of the agency’s establishment, visited Africa and saw the need for technical support for African countries who got their independence and formed new countries.

Since its establishment, MASHAV has trained close to 270,000 course participants from approximately 132 countries in Israel and abroad and has developed dozens of demonstration projects worldwide.

I was surprised to hear about the existence of such an outstanding agency and applied for the job vacancy I saw on social media posts. The job position was for MASHAV’s first training center, The Golda Meir Mount Carmel International Training Center (MCTC). The MCTC was established to help train women engage in community work in the newly emerging states in Africa and Asia. Today, the MCTC focuses on three areas of study: entrepreneurship and innovation, early childhood education and sustainable community development with a strong emphasis on female empowerment.

Two weeks after accepting the position, I found myself working on my first international project. A group of African entrepreneurs from across Africa came to participate in a two-week experiential learning course on “Start-up Accelerators in the Entrepreneur Ecosystem” held in Israel. The participants included government officials, scholars, and accelerators who lead startups and incubators in their respective countries. The course was designed to help participants learn from Israel’s experiences building a “start-up nation” – both its success and its failures.

During the two-week period, participants visited multiple Israeli companies, nonprofit organizations and government agencies. They met with innovative professionals who were readily willing to answer questions and speak about the Israeli entrepreneurial experience. And perhaps most importantly, many strong business connections and friendships were built between members of the program.

On the final day of the program, I was speaking to a group of participants who told me:

“When we first came here, we came with so many questions. But as we go now, we return back with a lot of resources that will change the future of our country. We learned from Israel’s history and experience – what we need the most is knowledge and to adopt the culture of helping each other. We want to thank you and let you guys know [that] your program changed our life.”

That is when I understood that I had already made an impact during my first month of work.

I am happy to be one of many Israelis who commit to transferring knowledge from Israel to the rest of the globe to create a better world.

The writer is a course director at MCTC, MASHAV, Foreign Ministry.


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