“Why would you go to Israel? Are you out of your mind?” The questions were becoming repetitive every time I mentioned to someone where I was going for the summer. It’s funny how people perceive a place or a thing just by hearing about it. If I hadn’t spoken to people who went there last summer, even I would have been reluctant to go on this trip, but I am glad I did, because it was a life-changing experience one could never forget.
Israel is a country that would make you think about faith and satisfy your eyes with its spectacular sights. The beaches are beautiful, the markets are adventurous, and there are flowers everywhere. From the church in Jerusalem to the beaches in Tel Aviv to the breathtaking sight at Masada, the cultural diversity and the lovely scenery will put your mind at peace.
The reason we went there though was not its beauty. “How is it that Israel – a country of 7.1 million, only sixty years old, surrounded by enemies, in a constant state of war since its founding, with no natural resources – produces more start-up companies than countries ten times more powerful than it?” The question was raised in the book “Start-Up Nation-The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle” by Dan Senor and Saul Singer. The answer is not a two- or three-page report; the answer lies in the heart of Israel, in its culture and in the way people dream. They dream it, and they do it.
Over these three weeks, we learned how to be an entrepreneur. We learned to be business people from experts in that field. It’s like learning magic from Albus Dumbledore, straight from the horse’s mouth. We visited various start-up companies and met many CEOs, stunned by their simplicity and passion for their work. No one cared about wearing formal clothes or working in a fancy workplace; all they cared about was their company and the people they worked with. All they cared about was their dream. This is one reason Israel is ahead of other nations: people dream big and they believe in their dreams. And, if they fail, they dream again.
Supported and guided by the best and the oldest academic institution in the country, the Technion Israel Institute of Technology, we achieved goals we never thought we could and discovered our hidden potential. We learned a great deal, but the most valuable lesson we learned was teamwork. We were a group of 24 students and, within three weeks, we became a family. We lived together, ate together, got late together (sometimes it was only me), we learned together. We formed companies and came up with some amazing ideas within a short time, which was commendable to say the least. The country does have some magic, for I am sure it wouldn’t have been the same anywhere else.
We visited three cities and each was different and amazing in its own way. Haifa is split in three levels, the lower centre of commerce and industry, including the port of Haifa, the middle level on the slopes of Mount Carmel, while the upper level includes modern infrastructure with breathtaking views. Tel Aviv is known for its sexy beaches and vibrant nightlife. The waterfront is lined with various shops and restaurants. The markets of Jaffa in Tel Aviv scream its ancient traditions and cultures. Jerusalem is just out of this world, no words are enough to describe the Holy Land. The Monastery of the Cross would make you stare at every fresco forever and still not get enough of it. Bargaining is something you need to be good at if you ever plan to shop in Israel.
Those three weeks in Israel were probably the best of my life so far. We saw some amazing sights, we learned some very valuable lessons, and we formed some bonds that will last a lifetime. I wish everyone got a chance to experience something as beautiful as this at least once. It might seem otherwise, but life is short and opportunities like these don’t knock on your door frequently.
I miss it now. I miss being with those people; I miss the heat; I miss the hummus; I miss Israel. Things were real in Israel.
Patricia is a Geomatics Engineering student who is also a member of the Student Welcome and Support Centre team, while Akhil is a first year Mechanical Engineer and a Lassonde Scholar.Both Patricia and Akhil were part of the group of Lassondians who travelled to Israel this summer to take part in a three-week intensive entrepreneurship program at Technion- Israel Institute of Technology and Tel Aviv University.CLICK HERE to listen to the recording of the interview broadcast last week.
Patricia and Akhil spoke about their experiences in Israel and their life as Lassonde students, as well as their excitement for the future with the School’s new home opening in the summer.