I can’t believe that my Chazen Israel trip has come to a close! As business school students, many of my classmates and I came into the trip expecting our itinerary to focus on Israel’s business environment. But to truly understand the nuances of a country’s economy, one must first understand the underlying history and culture. This week has been incredibly inspiring and I have learned so much not only from speaker presentations and formal tours but also from hearing about the personal experiences of our trip organizers and everyday Israelis we encountered on the street.
In just our last couple of days on the trip, we woke up early to watch the sunrise at the ancient desert fortress Masada, covered ourselves in mud and floated in the Dead Sea, visited an Air Force base where we learned about the influence of mandatory military service in Israeli culture and discussed the latest technological innovations in the healthcare space with Tom Ran of the Weizmann Institute of Science. There certainly has been no shortage of activities or learnings from this week.
Prior to this trip, I had heard and read much about Israel in the news and had long associated the country with ongoing conflict. Still, I had difficulty forming my own opinions on the geopolitical issues involving the country and knew I wanted to come to Israel to better understand why it was the subject of such divisive debates.
In reflecting with my Chazen group on all that we have done and learned this week, it became apparent that the Israel we experienced on the ground was very different and far more multi-faceted than the Israel we read about in the news. I have been pleasantly surprised by the warmth the Israelis have shown us as well as the level of passion and patriotism they show for their country. Many of my classmates remarked that this trip instilled in them a newfound appreciation of Israelis as survivors who always have hope even in the face of overwhelming challenges. In many cases, my classmates saw that many of the issues that Israel faced were similar to issues their own home countries have faced.
While my classmates and I can come away from this experience with a much richer knowledge of Israel as a country, our discussions this week only scratched the surface of the complexity of Israel’s roots and challenges. As future leaders, it’s important that we continue to push ourselves to learn more about the issues that make a market unique and find ways to draw connections between different cultures.
— Nathalie Tadena ’18