09 Nov Making the ‘Right Choice’ to Teach English in Israel
Morgan, 22, has always valued her Jewish identity. Born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, she grew up in the heart of the Bible belt, where being a Jew wasn’t always easy. After high school, she was determined to attend a college with an active Jewish community; she recently graduated from Indiana University with a BA in International Studies, a minor in Jewish studies, and a certificate in Political and Civic Engagement. But even though she knew she was expected to go straight into the workforce after finishing college, she didn’t feel ready.
“I wanted to take a step back from my life and really get to know myself before I make any big life decisions and do something that was a bit out of my comfort zone. I also wasn’t fully aware of what job I wanted after graduating,” explained Morgan. “I have always had a deep love for Israel and ever since my last visit in 2016 I knew I wanted to come back. I also enjoy working with kids so I thought Masa Israel Teaching Fellows would be the perfect opportunity to do something I love and give me time to figure out what I want to do career-wise.”
The Jewish Agency’s Masa Israel Teaching Fellows (MITF) program is a 10-month fellowship for post-college graduates (21-35) who want to teach English to underserved communities in Israel and thereby contribute to the future success of Israeli children in the socio-economic periphery.
“Once I heard of MITF, I knew this was the route I needed to take. I have already learned so much about myself and have truly grown since I’ve been here,” Morgan shared. “I have made lifelong friends with the other fellows and seen the impact I have on my students. The pure joy I get when a student gets a word, or a letter right is something that I wouldn’t trade for the world. This experience is really a dream come true.”
Morgan is based in Netanya and works at a local elementary school Monday through Thursday. The school is a school for the arts so every day, the students all study dance, ceramics, photography, or something in the arts field. Morgan has a dance background so the school is a perfect fit.
“What’s special about this school is that they take kids from the local neighborhood, which is lower-income, and bus in kids from the surrounding more well-off areas. The classrooms are a mix of kids from both backgrounds,” said Morgan. “I teach fourth, fifth and sixth graders, and while I was nervous at first, the students and teachers welcomed me in with open arms.”
Being in MITF, even if only for a few months so far, has been so rewarding for Morgan.
“I really think MITF allows its participants to do something that’s bigger than themselves. This program is giving me the opportunity to be creative and bring the tools I have from the States to an Israeli classroom,” stated Morgan. “Once this program is done, I know I will have played a part in the future and growth of Israel and I feel so much closer to Israel now than ever before.”
After the program ends, Morgan’s not sure what will come next. Aliyah is a possibility, as is going back to the States and potentially pursuing teaching.
“When I first decided to be part of MITF and move to Israel, I felt I was taking the ‘easy way out’ by not getting a job in corporate America like the rest of my peers. But my college friends all say now that they wish they had joined MITF with me as they feel they jumped too quickly into the workforce,” shared Morgan. “Working with these students and seeing the impact I have know I made the right choice. I have grown so much as a person and am proud of all I’ve accomplished so far. As for what my future holds, I am excited to find out!”