TAMID Fellowship 2018: Session 1 North Trip
By: Michael Levin, Duke University
Session One of the TAMID Fellowship got off to a great start with our trip up North. For every fellow, the start to this summer was met with great excitement. Whether it was their first time in Israel or first hands-on exposure to the Israeli business ecosystem, you could sense the overwhelming excitement within each TAMIDnik. As someone who has been on several Israel programs in the past, I couldn’t imagine a better place than the North of Israel to have our first group bonding experience.
After cohorts one, two, and three shuffled into the busses at the wee hours of Thursday morning, it was not long before all the eyes on the road were glued to the greenery and rolling hills of the North passing in the windows. Soon enough, we arrived to a hiking spot, where our tour guide explained the historical significance of the land we will be living and traveling through over the next 2 months. From this, it definitely resonated that due to the large amount of historical sites in Israel, at literally any moment we could be traveling through a place with great significance.
Following the hike, we had lunch on the Jordan River, and participated in a canoeing team-building activity. The canoeing adventure was structured so that groups of 9 Fellows would work in a team to build a raft and then sail down the river completing a discovery mission as if we were exploring the Jordan River for the first time in history. People on the trip got really into this activity by making the competition fun through splashing, racing, and playing in the water. Personally, my favorite part, as many of other fellows have come to know, was the Avatiach (watermelon) popsicle that I got to cool off with after the activity! They sell them all over Israel and when I see one, I can never stop myself from buying it.
By the time we finally arrived at the campground for the night, we were all exhausted from the day. However, the fatigue was no match for an awesome nighttime bonfire (marshmallows included). It was great to see everyone in Session One really coming together as a group, around the warmth and fun of a campfire. Even after a few days of being on the program, there were still some unfamiliar faces and I was happy that I had the opportunity to spend more time getting to know the other fellows in my cohort. Some stayed up late into the night playing card games or talking, others took a well-deserved shower and went to sleep early.
Finally, morning came and the whole group woke up bright and early, ready to start the day with a beautiful bike ride around the Han El Al campground. Aside from our short canoeing excursion, the biking adventure was our first time to really get into nature and be active together. The views were truly spectacular and the rough terrain kept everyone on their toes the whole ride.
We spent lunch that afternoon at a Druze village up North. This was definitely one of the group’s favorite moments. Following a delicious lunch, we had the opportunity to speak to a Druze woman and learn more about her religion, culture, and outlook on the State of Israel. Seeing the group fully engaged in learning and gaining a greater understanding of Israeli society, really solidified the excitement I had to be part of this group for the summer.
The rest of the weekend consisted of a visit to the port city of Haifa. We checked out the beautiful Bhai Gardens and checked into our hotel for the night. With a mixture of a lively Friday night (Shabbat for some) dinner and group activities for bonding and internship prep, I couldn’t have asked for a better environment to reflect on the retreat thus far and relax before the week ahead. Because of the Jewish holiday of Shabbat, the schedule in Haifa was fairly flexible. Many fellows chose to either explore the nightlife in the city, hang back at the hotel and relax, or head to the beach during the day to soak in the sunny Israel weather.
Once the evening rolled around, it was time to head back to the busses and get some sleep before our first day of work. I could tell by the looks on my friends’ faces that although we all had a healthy amount of nerves and anxiety about the first day of our internships, we were all relieved that we had created such a strong community within the program. After our trip to the North, I was sure that after any given long day at work to come, I would be able to kick-back with my fellow TAMID Fellows and enjoy all that Israel has to offer us this summer!