Holden Sperling

Last June I was working long hours as a customer service representative at a job where I longed to make a difference. The company I worked for was doing great things for children, but I wasn’t the one doing them. One month later, I was in Petach Tikvah, embarking on the experience of a lifetime.

It’s been five months since I began as a Masa Israel Teaching Fellow at Noami Shemer School. Over these months, I have developed personal relationships with many of the students. I have had the privilege of watching both their English skills and general confidence grow.

Meanwhile, the surrounding community has given me and the other fellows such an incredibly warm reception. We have been made to feel at home in Petach Tikvah and in Israel.  The warmth that I received from the community was extended to the group of 42 Taglit participants that visited Noami Shemer last week. The parents of the school prepared a beautiful breakfast for our visitors, who said it was the best meal they had eaten during their trip.

In celebration of Tu B’Shevat, the students and Taglit participants worked together to plant flowers in the garden and do nature-themed art projects. I am not exaggerating when I say that it was one of the proudest moments. My work organizing this kind of experience is leaps and bounds from the desk job I worked last year. I am not only making a difference, I am part of it.

Hometown: West Hollywood, CA

College: UCLA

Major: Near Eastern Languages & Cultures

City in Israel: Petach Tikvah

Fellowship Year: 2013-2014