US Israel Center Internship - Week 1

June 24, 2014
by Jamie Weisman

Shalom from Israel! I am Jamie Weisman, an MBA student at Rady. As it is now the summer between my first and second years, it is time to apply everything I’ve learned so far and gain some industry experience. I decided to apply for a fellowship through the Rady U.S.-Israel Center on Innovation and Economic Sustainability and Professor Glenn Yago’s Spring Quarter Course (Financial Innovations for Economic Development)…

Vance Lopez also is doing his summer internship here in Tel Aviv, only he is working for Driivz. Once we start these internships we will have more to share. We will be alternating the writing of these updates.

It’s hard to believe we’ve only been here a week! We arrived last Sunday and from Sunday until Thursday we spent time with our professor, Glenn, in Jerusalem. In our first few days we attended a conference, visited a few social ventures, met with the mayor of a small Arab town called Hura, learned about energy independence and fuel choice from an industry expert, went wine tasting, walked through an incredible light festival the Old City of Jerusalem, and enjoyed some truly delicious food.

On our very first day we drove down to Tel Aviv to attend a conference put on by the Chamber of Commerce regarding US-Israel economic ties. Many Israeli and US perspectives were given and Vance and I were able to learn a lot about Israel’s start up culture, oil and gas industry, energy independence initiatives, and bilaterial trade, amongst other topics, from panelists such as Avi Hasson (Chief Scientist of Ministry of Economy), Neil Corney (CEO Citi Bank Israel), Charles Rivkin (Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs), and Israeli Ambassador Shapiro. It was a very full day that set the course for the rest of our summer, especially since one of the reasons we are here is as a part of the California-Israel agreement signed in March. Right from the start we were able to see the bigger picture of our fellowship opportunities.

The next day was also full. We woke up early and drove down south to a small Arab town called Hura. We sat with the Mayor who in his 10 years has made great progress in bringing the local Bedouins into the town, the schools, and into the workplace-which was no easy task. You can read more about his story here. We went on that day to meet Itsik Zivan who runs a social venture that cooks and caters food for kindergartens. He has employed many Bedouin women, who had not previously been in the workplace. The women can now feel empowered and more independent than ever before.Lastly, we visited an up and coming organic farm started by Yunas Nabari that intends to create a self-sustaining system and make Bedouin farming and cultivation practices more known to visitors. I think it’s incredible how the Bedouins are able to sustain their land and crops even in the arid desert! I should also mention we were able spend this day with about 10 of the Israeli Milken Fellows, all of whom are working on their own independent projects here. On the way back to Jerusalem we stopped for a wine tasting… and we learned quickly that being with Glenn is always an adventure.

On Thursday, Vance and I met with Ariella Berger, Head of Oil Alternatives & Energy Research for The Israeli Institute for Economic Planning. Ariella gave a PowerPoint about Israel oil dependency and alternative sources of fuel. She is an extremely knowledgeable and accomplished woman that I felt really lucky to have met. I was grateful she was able to explain this dense, complicated subject really clearly to us. After speaking with Ariella, Vance and I made our way to our new apartment in the heart of Tel Aviv.

Between everything I’ve mentioned, Vance and I took an afternoon to visit the archaeology wing of The Israel Museum, we ate at many restaurants, all of which confirm my statement that Israel has the best food(!), and we explored the nightlife both in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. We are ready to begin our work assignments at our respective companies. We’ll be back next week with more updates…