Looking back the eight weeks that I’ve been in Israel, everything went by so quickly and I still can’t believe I went! It has been an amazing experience professionally and personally. I have a whole new perception of Israel as the Start-Up nation and would love to return to the country in the future.
I remember when I first arrived in Israel, I felt very excluded because I am a minority there. But as time passed I realized that people in Israel are so willing to share that they don’t care where you are from. I have been very fortunate to have the opportunity to work and speak with many start-ups and successful organizations. Everyone who I have talked to has been anything but kind to me. I learned so much just from meeting with people and sharing our experiences.
It took some time to get used to living in Israel since it’s very different than California. What I really love about the lifestyle there is that you can always see people just relaxing in a café sipping on their coffee or tea. The public transportation system in Israel can be confusing but once you get used to the system, getting anywhere in the country is fairly easy.
I have many memorable moments in Israel. My top two would be floating in the Dead Sea and rappelling at Mitzpe Ramon. Those two events were the highlights of my trip in Israel. I hope that I can go back to Israel when the weather is pleasant so I can hike through the desserts. Overall, I have come to really appreciate the country through my adventures. Israel is a small country with many things to see.
Since returning to California, I have been spreading good words about Israel. Now my friends and family have gained a different perspective of Israel rather than what the media has portrayed Israel to be.
This fellowship has definitely helped me grow professionally. I have expanded my network circle, built more confidence in presenting myself in front of others, and increased my knowledge in social finance. With the skills that I have obtained through this fellowship, I now have a lot more to offer to my future employer.
Concluding my time in Israel I leave with an immeasurable sense of accomplishment and gratitude. I now realize and better understand the amazing chemistry and collaboration that we could all benefit from through technology and knowledge transfer between the start-up state and start-up nation. Both places leave, through their particular strengths and weaknesses, an unbelievable footprint in the world of innovative technologies. This is a strong partnership whose resources are still very much untapped to their full potential in my opinion. There is a good reason why Israeli tech companies seek to expand so quickly in the American market just like there is a good reason some of the strongest tech firms have invested so much in R&D centers in Israel. The start-up nation and state complement each other in a beautiful way…
In my particular case, bringing the understanding I have gained to my team in California for our venture in facilitating international peer-to-peer transfers is unmatched. Israeli work culture, apart from the technologies themselves, is something quite peculiar to be studied. I have never met such an abrupt, informal, yet so productive group before in my life. Spending time under the thought leadership of the Milken Financial Innovations group, along with my placement at OurCrowd gave me many tools in the financial innovations and Venture Capital space. Seeing that our company we are building in California is a financial technology start-up hoping to bring sustainable innovation in the antiquated remittance industry, I can confidently say I return as a stronger teammate, co-founder, and visionary for my career goals. However, it is definitely greater than that- as was proposed in the MOU I hope this larger chemistry can truly translate into a “launching pad” for innovations that will have a positive impact on social and economic welfare in the world of today and tomorrow.
Being from Mexico and spending much time elsewhere in Latin America has given me an urge to hone in on sustainable development through innovation in this particular region of the world; and that is where I hope that all these efforts converge, that each of us in our own particular capacity and fashion can use the power of technology and innovation to further social well being. This fellowship taught me to push the envelope even further and most importantly, to listen. The wisest people I met on this trip the humble listeners who realized that we all have something to share and learn from each other. In Israel it is not all bright and innovative, the moral challenges that such a conflicted region brings you to question are truly a heavy weight. However, just like anywhere else you take the good forward, learn from the bad, do your part in making the world a better place however that may be, and share a cup of lemonade with your neighbor.
I would like to thank everyone who made this journey possible- the staff at Milken, the Rady US-Israel Center, OurCrowd, the other fellows, and all of the others who were involved along the way. Contrary to forgotten, I can promise I will be doing the best I can to take this experience and with it work towards promoting innovation that matters, innovation that changes for the good. It was a pleasure!
My internship got over last week and I am currently in India for a while, before heading back to Berkeley. Looking back at the past two months that I spent in Israel, I would definitely count it as an extremely productive and interesting summer.
Through my internship with Netafim, I mainly learned about the different benefits of drip irrigation and also the challenges associated with increasing its deployment, despite it being a very well established technology. I also got a sneak peek into the world of social impact investing, thanks to the different guest lectures that were organized by the Milken Institute. It was very interesting to see the role played by the Israeli government in supporting start-up companies working in environment and social impact technologies.
Going forward, my career interests lie at the intersection of business, natural resource management and social impact. Working with Netafim, participating in the labs organized by the Milken Institute and interacting with professionals working in sustainable development, in both California and Israel, has been an invaluable experience for me, more so since it was immediately after I graduated from my Master’s program at Berkeley. The fellowship felt like an extension of graduate school, offering opportunities to learn and to use the skills and knowledge I learned in the program in a business context. The experience is very relevant for my career going forward and I am keen to nurture the connections I have made in the coming days.
On a personal level, I was glad to have the opportunity to learn about a region of the world I was not very familiar with. Field visits, readings and conversations enriched the entire experience and has further piqued my interest to learn more about the socio-economic and political context of the eastern Mediterranean region.
My trip was filled with several wonderful moments; the most memorable one related to my travels was when I went paragliding for the first time in Mitzpe Ramon. The other was walking through Hezekiah’s Water Tunnel in the City of David. It was great to have Jia as a travel partner as we unfailingly attempted to include a few of exciting travel through our busy internship.
The support extended by everyone at the Milken Institute was wonderful and I am sure that the next set of global fellows will have very memorable summers as well, as they engage in addressing sustainability challenges in a global context.
During this trip in Israel I learned so much about the water technology industry. Being completely and immediately immersed in this fascinating, important work forced me to learn quickly. I enjoyed meeting executives of successful Israeli water technology companies such as Aquarius Spectrum, TaKaDu, Atlantium, and Ayyeka. I felt constantly inspired, challenged, and motivated to be a part of the necessary change in California. I am happy to have made some contacts that will help make that possible and to have learned from some key thought leaders in the industry.
Besides that, I learned a lot about what it takes to become successful in the water technology industry. There is high demand for water efficiency technologies and it’s clear that Israelis have both the know-how and perseverance to commercialize an idea. Israelis have a determination that is incredible- when there is a good idea with meaningful application, it’s not a matter of if, but how. This is something I will take with me; the notion of doing whatever it takes to become successful.
Outside of work, I decided to begin learning Hebrew and had to learn how to get around using public transportation since my job involved more commuting this summer. Knowing at least a little bit of these things made it easier to work and live in a country half a world away. I learned how warm and willing to help so many Israelis are. And I learned what it feels like to find a home in Israel.