During Summer 2020, 13 graduates from the class of 2020 interned with Milken’s External Relations Department. This internship provided valuable experiences for select Alumni to develop their skills and interests and to tackle important projects that enhanced Milken’s external relations initiatives. Several interns interviewed various members of our Milken community and wrote articles about their stories.
Andrew T. and David Ben-Naim, both seniors at Milken (‘21), had anything but a typical summer based on recent standards. In the midst of a global pandemic, both students spent the summer working in Israel, Andrew as an EMT and David as an intern with New Direction, a company whose purpose is to give equal access to high quality learning.
During their Tiferet Israel Fellowship in the spring of 2019, David and Andrew attended an informational session about future gap year and summer programs in Israel. Andrew was interested in becoming an EMT and when he discovered the Magen David Adom Ambulance Service EMT program, he knew this was the perfect opportunity. “Why don’t we come live here next summer,” he suggested to David.
The coronavirus created uncertainty about the viability of their 2020 summer plans and while they had both applied to their respective programs, they weren’t sure it would happen until the last minute. Eventually, everything came together and they were off to Israel.
David began his internship with New Direction in Tel Aviv. The company has several learning centers housed in the Central Bus Station which service individuals in need, mostly refugees and new immigrants. Children in the program are provided with literacy skills and adults are offered business and entrepreneurship classes. “I’ve been helping a lot with their website and social media, and also helping with creating teaching content.” David found this experience to be deeply rewarding and felt strongly in the mission and efficacy of the New Direction programs.
Andrew spent his summer responding to emergency situations all over Tel Aviv as a volunteer EMT. While the work was extremely challenging, he found it to be fulfilling and noted the camaraderie and more lighthearted moments of the work. “You’re driving around in the ambulance, you’re pumping music, speaking in Hebrew to nurses in the hospital, and meeting really cool people.” He reflected that only after a few shifts, he was put in situations where he was in charge. “It has definitely taught me leadership skills,” he said.
For both of the boys, spending their summer volunteering in Israel was a natural decision and they credit Tiferet for the inspiration. “Tiferet gave us this love for Israel and desire to come back and be a part of life here,” David said. Andrew added that, “We wanted to explore the idea of giving back to Israel.” They emphasize their desire to live in Israel as Israelis, and not just tourists. Ultimately, their motivation to make a real difference in Israel came to fruition, an experience for which they are both grateful and will never forget.