Interview with Arielle Lothman, current WUJS participant
So Arielle, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Well, my name is Arielle, I'm 21, was born and raised in Houston, Texas, and I graduated from Texas State University in San Marcos. I've been in Israel so far for four months and have two left.
Why did you decide to come to Israel?
After Birthright, I wanted to experience living in a different culture. My mom is Israeli so I was really inclined to come here. I also wanted some job experience to help my resume.
Your mom is Israeli? How's your Hebrew?
I started off in level two of Ulpan but I'm progressing.
So what has been your experience so far? Do you feel like you're immersed in Israeli society on WUJS?
Definitely. Birthright is very go-go-go! For ten days, you see everything from north to south. On WUJS, we get to do everything but spaced out over time. We're taking the buses, sheiruts (shared taxis), going to work, dealing with people at the shuk....experiences that you don't really get on Birthright but only by living in Israel.
How did you find out about WUJS?
I found out about WUJS after I did Birthright with the University of Texas. My Hillel helped me decide which program I wanted to go on.
So where are you volunteering and what has your experience been like?
I am volunteering at Yukon Software Services doing Human Resources. I've really enjoyed going to work every morning. The people I work with are great. It's a young company and staffed with people from all over the world. I have also gotten a first hand look at HR which is what I want to pursue as my career when I get home.
And you're doing meaningful work?
Absolutely. Just today, I spent a few hours working on job descriptions, creating them and posting them on websites targeted both to native Israelis and also to people who make aliyah. I also helped filter resumes which were submitted for positions and oversee our LinkedIn profile and other social media things.
What about when you're not working? What do you do on weekends and free time?
Go out to eat, shopping and errands (whatever I don't have time for during the week), travel....right now, I'm planning a trip to Petra.
So you're staying busy. What are the best parts about the program?
The best parts are definitely the Tuesday siyurim (field trips). We've gone to many places such as the Dead Sea, the Old City in Jerusalem, Akko, the Ein Hod artist village, and more. These trips really help you see all of Israel.
How has your connection to Israel has changed since arriving?
I love Israel. I feel comfortable living here. Celebrating Shabbat every Saturday is a very unifying experience with friends and family. I'm glad I've been able to live here, even for a brief period of time. The best part about living in Israel is definitely the fact that you are surrounded by people who are Jewish; it's a very powerful connection.
What do you mean by celebrating Shabbat?
It's an experience; everything closes. It's just completely different from Shabbat in the States. It forces you to be with your family and friends, to spend time with people you love and care about. It makes it easy to dedicate a day of the week to relax.
And after the program ends?
My plan is to move back to Houston and look for a job in Human Resources with all the new skills I've acquired here. Thank you, WUJS!