Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Participant Spotlight: Erin West

Hey y’all, I’m Erin West from the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina. I vacillate wildly between being a granola hippie and a medium-maintenance millennial, often both at the same time. I do, however, maintain an unwavering love for dogs (with mine at the top of that list) and a personal mission to have even the tiniest positive effect on the world around me.

I graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in May 2016 and here in Israel I am volunteering with Holland Center for children with special needs, Porter Elderly Center, and the Clinic for Asylum Seekers. The volunteer opportunities at Tikkun Olam vary widely across the non-profit sphere. As such I was able to select placements that fulfill me personally, gain experience in my desired field, and to give my time and energy in a way that benefits the communities I am serving.

I found Tikkun Olam through BINA’s Taglit (Birthright) extension program, where I was able to volunteer with Tel Aviv’s asylum-seeking community. I wanted to engage with the people of Israel and learn about the complexities of society and politics. In general, to learn about Israel beyond the rose-colored glasses of Birthright or the fear-mongering of American media. After the brief volunteer and educational program I participated in, I realized BINA was the kind of organization that asks and listens in order to provide a service which is actually needed. After establishing that and finding Tikkun Olam, it was just figuring out the details! Now, after 2.5 months, I know I made the right decision.

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