Thirty-five outstanding undergraduate students from the University of Illinois say they have a new perspective on Israel and what it has to offer the world, after completing a 10-day visit.“Israel’s well-established reputation for innovation in technology and agriculture makes it a natural partner for the cutting- edge research at UIUC,” said Gies College of Business dean Jeffrey Brown. “We’re partnering with Tel Aviv University and pioneering businesses to give our students a head start at turning business concepts into viable companies that will impact our state, the country and the world. This innovative learning experience exposes students to the vanguard of the dynamic local and global businesses they will one day run.”Student Yingyi Wu told The Jerusalem Post that meeting “friendly Israelis and breaking the knowledge gap of what is happening in Israel, and what is known by the public outside of this country” was a highlight.“I hope to take with me descriptions of the Start-Up Nation and how it is different from how the public views it.There is definitely a knowledge gap; I want to use ideas to right this wrong,” she said.For Andrew Michelotti, the highlights were learning about Jerusalem’s history, and a visit to Mobileye.“It’s amazing to walk on 3,000 years of history and through biblical locations, but to still be exposed to some of the most exciting disruptive start-ups...that are really going to change my life and people’s lives around the world,” he said. Michelotti added that this trip has given him a new perspective on Israel “and what’s going on here. When it’s brought up in the news or among friends, I think I’ll be able to speak a lot more intelligently about it and join the worldwide discussion about this place and what Israel has to offer the world.”The students arrived in Jerusalem on March 17 and met with a cross-section of business, political dignitaries and cultural figures. They also visited historic landmarks and natural wonders – which included floating in the Dead Sea – and participated in Shabbat celebrations at the Western Wall.The group also met with Leonid Bakman, founder and president of the Israel Innovation Institute, and former US ambassador Dan Shapiro.Students at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign recently hit back against the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement by voting “no” to a discriminatory referendum that called for divestment from companies doing business with Israel.Brown said “our university signed memoranda of understanding with leading Israeli universities to encourage institutional collaborations.”“This unique program kickstarts their learning and gives them the tools they need to continue our university’s legacy of innovation,” Brown said.