Bulldogs Return to Campus after Summer in Israel

Yale students experienced Israeli culture while living and working in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem (pictured here) thanks to a new Bulldogs program.

A cohort of eleven students returned to Yale this September sharing a novel perspective of Israel. As the first participants in a new Bulldogs program, the four men and seven women interned at for-profit and non-profit companies in Israel and gained direct experience with Israeli culture.

The International Bulldogs Program was established in 2003 with the British Bulldogs in London. Now the program provides internships in eighteen cities around the world from Beijing to Istanbul with as many as two hundred undergraduates participating each year. Bulldogs in Israel launched in 2009 thanks to the generous support of Alec Ellison ’84 and his wife, Tamar Sadeh Ellison ’85.

Jane Edwards, Yale College’s associate dean for international affairs, said “We were very excited to learn of Alec and Tamar’s gift, an act of generosity that made it possible to launch the first Yale program for undergraduates in Israel. I cannot imagine a more fascinating experience for students, and the enthusiasm of local alumni and the superb support provided by the local coordinator, Rebekah Emanuel ’07 Stiles, have made this a truly remarkable initiative.”

Opportunities for learning and personal growth

One of the eleven Bulldogs in Israel, Elizabeth Breit ’10, worked at an Arab and Jewish school in southern Jerusalem. She was a teacher’s aide for the month of June and then led an English language immersion camp for the remainder of the summer.

Elizabeth describes the experience as a transformative one. Regularly involved in education activities at Yale, she says the internship provided new challenges. “I had my own immersion-style experience on how to be an effective and respected teacher,” she said. Elizabeth believes that the language camp was an important opportunity for her students as well: “The students occupy a special and key role in Israeli society, and English will be increasingly important for them as they grow up to be leaders in their communities—and bridges between them.”

Another of the group, political science major Nicholas Sanchez ’10, interned with Evogene, a biotech company that develops improved plants for the agriculture and biofuel industries. Although he spent eight- to ten-hour days at the office researching the wheat market, Nick had time to explore as well. “We met people in business and social settings and had exposure to different political viewpoints,” he said. “Now when I hear or read something about Israel in the news, I have a lot more context than I did three months ago.”

Supporting student experiences abroad

“After learning that an international educational experience has become a nearly de facto part of the Yale College experience, we wanted to expand the highly successful Bulldogs program to Israel,” Alec Ellison said. “The program will provide students with a sense of the vibrancy and many dimensions of Israeli society and likely also provide a sharp contrast to the image of the country students might have previously formed based on US media coverage of Israel.”

Alec Ellison graduated from Yale in 1984 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and history and went on to earn his MBA from Harvard Business School. He now works as co-head of investment banking for Jefferies & Company, Inc. in New York City. Tamar Ellison majored in history at Yale and earned a JD from NYU in 1988.

(October 16, 2009)

October 16, 2009