Spring Break in Tel Aviv, Israel
Published: Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 9, 2012 16:04
“Not only did we get once in a lifetime access to classified businesses, but we also were able to experience the culture of Israel and indulge ourselves in the amazing religious history Israel has to offer.” – Egypt-native, Monica Gabriel, Entrepreneurship major.
“I didn’t want to leave and was considering “losing my passport” so I would have to stay forever!” – Erin O’ Connor.
Led by Sawyer Business School Executive in Residence Professor of Marketing, David Hartstein, and Professor of Management/Entrepreneurship, Suzyn Ornstein PhD., a group of us embarked on the ‘Entrepreneurship in Israel’ seminar trip during spring break with uncertain expectations. The recounts of our story include site visits, overall best moments, the eagerness to return and post-visit views of the region.
Israel is the country with the top-most density of start-up companies in the world, making it the 24th largest economy in the world and listing more companies in NASDAQ than the entire European continent combined. Its technologically advanced economy allows for a better understanding of the Israeli market.
A range of top grossing companies appeal and distribute their products to a grand portion of the populace throughout the nation. The companies we visited were:
- NETO Group: meats, frozen meals
- RAFAEL Advanced Defense Systems Ltd: Israel’s weapons and military technology company
- Carmel Winery: top winery in Israel; Kosher wine
- TNUVA: milk and dairy products
- OSEM/Nestle: savory snacks, coffee, cereals
- AHAVA: Dead Sea skin care products distributed internationally
With Israel frequently in front headlines and top news, many preconceived notions of the country undoubtedly changed, which some pictured as an extremely unstable, constantly conflicting and oppressed environment.
“I felt safer than I have ever felt walking home in Boston to the North End any time after 11:00 pm,” stated seminar-attendee Katie Mulrean. “That says a lot.”
Apart from the business aspect of the course, the cultural traditions and history of the Jewish population was the center of our 10-day trip. We visited numerous historical and religious sites including Jerusalem, Nazareth, Jordan River, Masada and the Dead Sea among a few.
There were a variety of learning experiences in the duration of the seminar including: Yad Vashem -- the Holocaust official memorial in Jerusalem, floating in the Dead Sea, learning Hebrew, i.e. “Shlomo”; missiles flying over our heads at NETO headquarters in Kiryat Malachi (approx. 20 miles of Gaza), Israeli Culture and Kosher diet, Carmel Winery wine tasting, riding a camel below sea level.
A selection of the more humorous incidents involve a student accidentally quenching their thirst with Jordan River water, some getting kicked out of a Jerusalem shop for bartering incorrectly and unintentionally leaving another behind at AHAVA factory in midst of the Judean Desert.
Advice to future Entrepreneurship in Israel Global Seminar goers?
“Do your research!” added marketing major Gabriella Cacciatore. “Everything will be more interesting and engaging if you know what to expect.”
“Don’t sleep so you can soak up every single minute you’re there. But seriously…” said O’ Connor.
“Take notes. Take pictures, thousands of them,” said Mulrean. “I promise, you’ll LOVE going through them all, over and over again.”
Regardless, this trip would’ve been different without our two faculty members, according to Global Business/Entrepreneurship major Natalie Favati.
“We had strong encouragement and support throughout the entire trip from Professor Hartstein and Professor Ornstein. They really encouraged us and challenged us to get the most out of this trip and we absolutely did.”
If given the opportunity, I would personally be on the next flight to TLV. Although it’s amazing environment, nightlife, food and lifestyle is purely captivating, what did it for me was its history, to have the ability to travel back in time, and to retrace the beginnings of Judaism, Christianity and the footsteps of Jesus Christ.