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Bizrael Student Experience

Bizrael Student Experience

An Israel trip for college students that shows the Israeli hi-tech start-up culture – up close and personal.

by

Every year tens of thousands of students and young people touch down at Ben Gurion Airport to experience the spirituality, history and excitement of Israel, the homeland and nation of the Jewish people. For each of these individuals their time in Israel has a meaningful impact: some get a chance to experience their spirituality in a new way, others get to reconnect with the ancestors of the Jewish people, and all get to bond with their Jewish peers.

Yet most of these young visitors do not see even a glimmer of the exciting and rapidly-expanding start-up scene that is revolutionizing the Israeli economy and bringing innovation to world markets. Most people are more familiar with Israel for Dead Sea skin products than the countless Israeli innovations that have revolutionized the fields of hi-tech, health, energy and agriculture. Many amazing technologies that are saving lives or simply making life better are being launched from the "Start Up Nation."

We visited Google Israel and Microsoft Israel, where some of the Internet’s coolest technology is being developed.

In May 2012 I touched down at Ben Gurion as a participant in the Bizrael Student Experience, a brand new Israel trip for business students. I'm a 19-year-old from Needham, Massachusetts studying business at New York University's Stern School of Business. This was not my first time in Israel, but Bizrael was unlike any other trip I had taken or even heard about because of the unique experience it offers students professionally and personally.

Bizrael participants visit Better Place

A component of the trip is developing a sense of pride and passion for the developments and innovations that characterizes the name "Israel." Israeli start-ups are trending big. And by big I mean, New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ big. Besides American companies, Israelis have the most companies listed on NASDAQ – pretty amazing for a country the size of New Jersey with a population of less than 8 million people.

We visited Google Israel and Microsoft Israel, where some of the Internet’s coolest technology is being developed.

We went for a test drive at Better Place, the electric car company that has raised nearly one billion in VC and is destined to revolutionize the way we drive.

Regardless of why Israeli entrepreneurs have been so successful, their vantage-point and ideas regarding innovation are amazing to witness. Bizrael takes college students interested in entrepreneurism into the conference rooms, labs, and work floors of the companies that aren't only changing Israel, but the world too. And learning how they do it.

As a student I was inspired by the Israeli business leaders, scientists, and government officials we met and their awe-inspiring dedication to making their dreams of change come to fruition. It is especially exciting to see how Israel went from a struggling agricultural economy to one that is blossoming because of innovative thinking and entrepreneurial risk-taking. On top of it all I got the chance to tour the mystical city of Tzfat, have an inspirational Shabbat at the Aish Center overlooking the Western Wall, and deepen my relationship with a country that is so historically, religiously and intellectually amazing.

Bizrael helped us explore and think outside the box.

Bizrael gave me an experience that I couldn't find anywhere else. It's hard to express how different Bizrael is from any other student experience; the trip is a journey that challenges you to reach your highest professional, intellectual, and spiritual levels in the best of ways.  Bizrael helped us explore our interests and potential as individuals and encouraged us to think in new and creative ways, as well as network with motivated students and Israeli entrepreneurs. I loved sitting down and getting a chance to understand how Israeli entrepreneurs transferred their army experience to hi-tech.

Bizreal participants

We had hands-on breakout sessions for Business Plans and Coaching that taught us lessons that are not found in our classrooms. We held a "pitch night" where fellow students pitched business real-life ideas. All of these experiences were so exciting, inspirational, and impactful to the group.

Experiencing the Israeli business life and culture created a strong bond between the students and Israelis in the business arena, one that most students are never exposed to. Bizrael students campaign and advocate for the innovation that Israel delivers to the world market, a subject they can defend even when sparring with critics of Israel's politics.

From this connection some students spent more time in Israel and worked as interns while others built a network planning to return one day looking for work or investment opportunities but we all returned to our campuses with a renewed sense of pride in Israel. Any student who is interested in a revolutionary experience in Israel should think about the Bizrael Student Experience.

Bizrael is running four trips this December for undergraduate and graduate students. For more information and to apply, visit www.bizrael.org

Published: September 1, 2012


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Visitor Comments: 2

(2) ruth housman, September 4, 2012 8:41 PM

Bizrael

If you can do it with words, it's going to happen. I found this article really interesting. It seems a theme for the New Year is thinking "out of the box", as in creativity is boundless, and we cannot put boundaries around what's possible, in terms I hope of the Positive. In this light, reading the comment above about poverty in Israel, I hope the thinking caps are about this too, because this sounds really upsetting, but I did not read the article referenced.

(1) Canuck, September 4, 2012 3:59 PM

Are both these Israels the same country?

The above article highlights a high-tech, start-up Israel that is burgeoning with innovation and blossoming with success. That's wonderful, of course. But not so long ago we read more than one Aish article that described a very different side of Israel. In that country (&, for comparison purposes, i'm still speaking of the Jewish population), desparate poverty-stricken parents worked at multiple minimum-wage jobs to support their families. And, most awful of all, 1 child in 8 went to bed hungry. So my question is, are both these Israels real? And if so, is anything wrong here?

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