Faces of Federation

Interning in Tel Aviv with Onward Israel Los Angeles

Nirel Gidanian is a sophomore at The University of California, Los Angeles studying biology. While finishing her freshman year, she applied for Onward Israel Los Angeles and spent eight weeks of summer 2018 interning at a dental clinic in Tel Aviv. Nirel shared her experience with us.

My experience in Israel was different from the experiences I’ve had in Israel in the past. Living and working there have given me a deeper understanding into the lives of Israelis and the daily tasks they carry out, such as using public transportation, purchasing groceries, going out with friends, and more. My internship at the dental clinic was different from anything I could have had in the United States in the sense that I was able to simultaneously learn Hebrew and dental procedures. Sometimes, the language barrier posed challenges with patients, however many times I was able to express myself and understand what they were saying using different methods. A lot of my favorite moments included spending time with my friends that I made in Israel getting dinner or ice cream or hanging out on the beach! Advice I’d like to give to future participants would be to keep an open mind, be willing to try new things, and go out of your comfort zone — being in a different country with a different culture requires time for adjusting, so it is important to give yourself time to get used to the new atmosphere.

My experience has helped me grow socially and educationally because I have learned how to act in a professional environment and talk to new people who may be very different or very similar to me. On a typical day at my internship, I arrived at the clinic and changed into the proper uniform the dentists and assistants wear, and then I would go into a dentist’s room and watch them as they helped their patients. Often, I was asked to help assist or clean up the room between patients since this is a fast process and they needed as much help as they could get! Watching the dentists and working with them hands-on were beneficial to my learning and have helped me understand more about what it is to be a dentist. It was definitely helpful to live with people from L.A. because it was great to meet people I could stay in touch with and meet up with now that we are back in the United States. Something that surprised me about this experience was how quickly I became comfortable with the other participants and the people who worked at the dental clinic.. I think being on a program with 14 other participants is really nice because we all got to know each other and it was a friendly group since it wasn’t large. Also, the warm Israeli culture really helped me feel at home and welcome at my internship. For the remainder of my time in Israel, I explored new places and visited more museums in Tel Aviv. Additionally, I tried to find more activities to do for Shabbat dinners on Friday nights so that I could observe the holiday in a family-style setting. My favorite place in Israel is Jerusalem because I love the environment there and the machane yehuda shuk is always so much fun! My favorite spot in Tel Aviv is Meir Garden, which is right by our apartment and is a nice place to read, eat lunch, and hang out with friends. This was an experience better than I could have ever asked for!

Onward Israel is an eight-week internship program in Israel. Participants learn new skills, make new friends, explore contemporary Israel, and gain valuable professional experience. Applications for Summer 2019 are now open! Apply today.