All aboard the Party Bus!
Our 8-day trip struck a perfect balance between the old and the new, and allowed us to gain a valuable professional insight into the secrets of Israel’s technological success as well as giving us the chance to explore the vast monumental heritage the country holds, as the birthplace of several civilisations. Within minutes of overlooking Tel Aviv from atop the Google Campus skyscraper, or meeting with venture capital funds such as Magma VC, ground-breaking start-ups like SCiO or tech giants like Outbrain across the country, we would be relishing in the peaceful harmony of ancient Jaffa, sailing across the waters of the Sea of Galilee Jesus walked on, or getting lost in the maze conformed by the narrow alleyways that connect Jerusalem’s Armenian, Muslim, Jewish and Christian quarters. Our trip was vibrant, dynamic and eclectic, and entailed that we would still be reflecting on the untroubled atmosphere of the Wailing Wall or the restful silence of the Cenacle, where the Last Supper was held, when we would be plunged again into the electric environment at ElevatorFund, Jerusalem Venture Partners and all the other players of the Israeli tech ecosystem that we had the chance to meet. Israel today is modernity and heritage, and the trip Rie designed for us to enjoy encompassed both and allowed us to understand how different these realities are, yet how much they need each other: Israel’s entrepreneurial success cannot be explained without looking back, and Israel’s proud past would not make sense had it not laid the foundations for a prosperous and progressive society that now looks forward.
Ben, Charlie, Isa and Julian about to pass their camel-riding license
Sailing in the Sea of Galilee, with the Golan Heights in the horizon
A week of frenzy and agitation as much as a week of teachings and inner introspection. A week to dance along Bar-Mitzvah-celebrating families down the streets of Jerusalem towards the Wall, visit Ramat David Air Force Base, marvel afloat in the Dead Sea and meet with the local IE alumni, with whom we shared a cheerful evening that strengthened our pride in belonging to such an international and dynamic community as IE has become. A week that could not have had a more touching closure than the one the Goldstein family prepared, for they opened the doors of their home to celebrate Shabbat dinner with us; Jonathan, Smadar and their four children are a lovely family as much as a joyful and witty bunch, and I was touched by their generosity, openness and warmth. A very special dinner where we sung prayers, learnt more about the Shabbat rituals and closed the trip in an unforgettable way, surrounded by very different people to whom we, however, felt very close.
A week that we will hold dear in our hearts, for many years to come.
1000 colourful umbrellas cover Yoel Moshe Solomon street, Nachalat Shiva district, old Jerusalem
I cannot close this review without expressing our gratitude to two people without which the trip would not have been the same, or would simply not have happened.
The team heading towards the prayer zone of the Wailing Wall, with the Dome of the Rock at the back
Oren was our guide from beginning to end. He picked us up and dropped us off at Ben Gurion Airport and was by our side every day in between. He certainly knows his facts and has done his research, but there are more compelling reasons why we all agreed that he was the best guide we have ever come across. In 8 days I did not see Oren falter; he always had a nice word and a candid smile for us and in how he explained everything (everything!), I could see a man who loves his country deeply and relishes sharing that passion. Everything about Oren evokes goodness, fairness and tranquillity of mind- it was inspiring to spend time with someone who conveys so much peace, and it was delightful to meet his family. I hope he takes on my invitation to watch a Real Madrid game soon- all of us look forward to meeting him again.
I don’t want to imagine how much time and effort Rie must have put into this trip, but as an anecdote I’ll say that during a get-together prior to the trip to study the agenda and itinerary, I jokingly asked why were we not riding camels. To me it was a simple ice-breaker, a mere joke… But we rode on camels, because Rie made sure to find a place on our way to the Dead Sea and Masada where we would be able to. Our feeling throughout the trip was that Rie would go out of her way beyond imagination to ensure that we had a pleasant, fruitful and worthy experience, and we cannot thank her enough. Even when we were having so much
fun that we became oblivious of everything else, she remained on the watch-out, ready to take a picture or draw our attention to what mattered. Her warm-hearted, generous and cheerful nature made her the perfect leader; she kept track of everything without having to ever raise her voice or interfere with the festive atmosphere. The Global Immersion Week could not have happened without her, therefore my peers and I want to give her a public and heartfelt thank you.