06 Aug Bringing Bollywood to Israel
Mayan grew up in Mumbai, dancing from the age of six, practicing Bharatanatyam (an Indian classical dance form) for nine years before going on to learn Bollywood, hip-hop and jazz. Her love of dance stayed with her throughout her teenage years, as did her love of Israel, which had been instilled in her as a child.
After graduating with a degree in English Literature, Mayan was fairly certain her future would be in teaching but wanted to test it out first. That’s when she stumbled across MITF on the internet. Masa Israel Teaching Fellows is a 10-month fellowship for college graduates who want to teach English in Israel and be a part of Israeli society.
“I have been visiting Israel for many years to see family and with every visit, my desire to live in Israel grew stronger and I was determined to make Aliyah,” said Mayan. “When I found MITF, it was just the perfect opportunity. Starting my teaching career in Israel further inspired me to make Aliyah, be closer to my family, spread Indian culture through teaching, and last, but not least, bring light to the children of Israel.”
Mayan flew to Israel, a bit nervous about the experience since she was the only Indian participating in the program. While she’d been to Israel several times before on short trips, this was to be for nearly a year.
“Being Indian in Israel has been challenging yet rewarding. Overall, my Indianness blended beautifully with the Israeli lifestyle,” Mayan recounted. “The holy land of Israel gave me the space to be more Jewish and feel more Jewish and I was really able to develop relationships within the community in Israel.”
Shortly after arriving, Mayan decided she wanted to introduce a new way of teaching, combining her love of dance with education.
“I asked myself, ‘Why not blend teaching a language and dance together?’ I thought doing so would be interesting and a lot of fun,” Mayan says. “The children were really supportive and excited about it. Some would actually get up from their seats and start copying the moves.”
Now that her MITF fellowship is over, Mayan has returned to India, but it won’t be for long. She plans to make Aliyah within the year and learn in Ulpan (Hebrew language center) before going on to get her Masters degree and a teaching license to officially kick off her career in education. And of course, she says, she’ll continue to dance when she has the chance not only for her enjoyment, but to elevate and bring awareness to Indian culture.