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Gera is true Tevel pioneer- the graduate of the first cohort of the Tevel Community program in Nepal. He also led Tevel’s projects in Haiti and in between, in Israel, he established the “Nepali Initiation”- a social project focusing on Nepali migrant workers in Israel. He had worked in a variety of projects focusing on environmentalism, for example using all of the organic waste generated by the Aroma coffee food factories to create compost for agriculture. Gera also initiated a program called “Rak Ahava” together with another Tevel alumnus, Tamar Priel, that supports young Israelis to travel to Thailand to learn Thai language and culture. Upon their return to Israel they work with Thai migrant workers in Israel to help them advocate for their rights and combat exploitation. Gera has also done development work in Cameroon for Hebrew University, and spent the two first months of 2014 in Burundi helping Tevel set up its operations there. When he’s not traveling the world, Gera resides in a dome in Moshav Aviezer embodying the values that he believes in, working for the Israeli NGO- “The Good Energy Initiative.”
After graduating from Mount Holyoke College in 2011, Anabelle knew that she wanted to travel and make a difference in the world. These two ambitions led her to spend five months volunteering in Kathmandu, Nepal with Tevel b’Tzedek, where her passions for social justice, food security, and public health were ignited.
Since volunteering with Tevel b’Tzedek, she has led a community garden initiative in Israel’s first Israeli-Arab school, taught environmental education at Jewish summer camps both domestically and abroad, participated in a 15 month Jewish Food Justice Fellowship with the Leichtag Foundation in San Diego, CA and now, pursues a dual degree in Public Health and Food Policy and Nutrition at Tufts University.
She describes her experiences in Nepal as helping to shape all of her career decisions, as well as gaining a “perspective about the global food system, systemic issues in public health as well as a strong Jewish ethical tradition” that she had not tapped into before.
“In addition to my career objectives, volunteering with Tevel b’Tzedek gave me the opportunity to truly live in a communal setting. Having to live, work and navigate in a developing country certainly makes for an interesting community. Four years later, I am still very close with the other Tevel volunteers and actively try to recreate a Jewish community here in the U.S. through communal meals and informal prayer services. Volunteering in Nepal with Tevel b’Tzedek has shaped my life in profound ways, and I know I would not be the same person I am without this transformative experience.”
Ram Shefa was born and raised on Kibbutz Givat Haim and participated in the Exchange for Change program in October-November 2009. After travelling for a few months after his time volunteering, he returned to Nepal to guide the next Exchange for Change cohort.
During his time in Nepal, his educational, social, and political activist identity developed and he left with the understanding of the role he wanted to take in influencing the world and communities around him. He also explored his Judaism by participating in the communal experiences of Shabbat and left wanting to keep those Jewish traditions with him for his future family.
Currently, Ram is the vice chairman of the National Union of Israeli students. He also studies education and is in the process of completing his teaching certificate at the Institute for Democratic Education. When Ram began pursuing his degree back in Israel, he wanted his fellow students to experience something similar to what he did in Nepal, and despite many challenges he organized a mission of education students to travel to Nepal for five weeks. During this meaningful event, he was able to watch his fellow students go through a process of teaching and giving, but also learning and receiving, just as he did in his time with Tevel.
Zoe Quint, who volunteered with Tevel in the 15th cohort, moved to Israel for a year after college and worked as an Israel Teaching Fellow in Rehovot and in Tel Aviv with the Jaffa Institute. Through this work, she became interested in non-profit work and returned to the States in 2013 where she worked with the American Dental Education Association. This work was not fulfilling for her and she was hoping to travel, so she was thrilled to join Tevel in Nepal when she was accepted. In Nepal, she was able to plan a number of health and nutrition and wellness campaigns in Kalimati, and through this work, realized that she wanted to pursue a career in healthcare.
Now Zoe works as a volunteer coordinator for a nonprofit in Washington, DC called Health Volunteers Overseas, an organization committed to providing teaching and training to health professional in developing countries. She is also enrolled in nursing classes and hopes to be a nurse midwife or family nurse practitioner, with an emphasis on global public health. She dreams of working with women and children, and empowering them through nutrition and wellness education, domestically and abroad.
While in Nepal with the 9th cohort, Talia was able to learn about living simply and cherishing what she has, understand the importance of genuine connection, and learn about the power of human adaptability and kindness, while fueling her desire to help the world in unique ways. While on this journey, she also connected more to her Judaism as she was able to take the principles of Tikkun Olam out of the classroom and synagogue and into the real world, and as it allowed her to explore her Jewish identity with her new Israeli friends.
Currently, Talia is working as a clinical social worker in Boston, Massachusetts. She works at a residential program for children with emotional and behavioral challenges related to trauma they have experienced. She hopes that in the future she can continue to support healing and growth for people, especially children, which was a goal that was reinforced during her time with Tevel b’Tzedek.
Currently, Arielle Angel is the Director of Operations at the New York-based Sustainability Laboratory, a nonprofit that works to address urgent sustainability challenges facing the planet by creating and demonstrating effective tools for catalyzing radical change. Their flagship project is Project Wadi Attir, a Bedouin-led experimental farm, demonstrating an approach to sustainable desert agriculture. The project innovates not just on the environmental level, but on the socio-economic level as well, taking a holistic approach to sustainable development. She works closely with Bedouin staff to build capacity and create a functioning enterprise.
When she looks back on her time with Tevel b’Tzedek, she describes it as directly preparing her for her current job and hugely impacting her life.
“I feel comfortable working directly with our Bedouin staff–in Hebrew, a language I didn’t speak before my time in Nepal, but can now conduct meetings in–in a culturally-sensitive, humble and deliberate manner. At Tevel, we were constantly evaluating the efficacy and sensitivity of our approach through a globalized lens, making sure we were not imposing our perspective on the communities in which we worked, but were responding to the community’s needs and working with (and not “for”) the community to fulfill those needs. This perspective is essential to my work at Project Wadi Attir, and in our other development projects around the world.
However, even if I had not gone on to work in the field of sustainable development, I would still consider myself a product of the Tevel program, so deeply did it shape my worldview. On a basic level, I had never lived anywhere without plumbing, without showers, without even a mattress. I was learning two languages at once–Hebrew and Nepali–and I had never lived anywhere where English was not the best option for communication. I did not know what my mind and body were capable of, and I was surprised at how well I adapted, given the opportunity–and more than adapted, but how much I thrived! Before I attended Tevel, I had little exposure to the broader dynamics of a globalized world–how things got the way they are in the first place, why they persist, and the best ways to shape them moving forward. The lessons I learned on these topics are so ingrained that it’s hard to point at them directly–if I’m like a fish, they are simply the water I now swim in every day.”