12/14/2018

From Puerto Rico to Cleveland to Israel

Tags: Federation, Israel, Overseas, Young Adults

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Like most college freshmen, Alejandra Fishman arrived on the campus of Kent State University feeling equal parts excited and nervous. The native of Puerto Rico chose Kent State University to study at the Shannon Rodgers and Jerry Silverman School of Fashion Design and Merchandising. Moving to Northeast Ohio for college was a change for her, but it felt like home immediately after stepping on campus. “It was an amazing thing to see Hillel right by my dorm. Over my four years, I not only made lifelong friends, but I gained so much knowledge to take with me from the people I met and the experiences I had. College would have been a lot different had I not walked through those doors.”

One of those experiences was Onward Israel, a two-month summer internship program, supported by Federation, which allows college students and recent college grads to immerse themselves in Israeli culture – living and working in Tel Aviv. “After returning from Birthright, it was always something in the back of my mind. I needed an internship for college credit. One of the options through Onward was an internship with Elisha Abargel, a fashion designer in Tel Aviv. It was such a perfect match!”

Alejandra’s internship was in the marketing department, where she was integral in promoting Abargel’s products through social media. “I assisted with photography, market research, and trend forecasting. I was also able to make several international business connections, helping Elisha further his brand. That taught me to always look outside the box, always look for the ‘bigger and next opportunity.’ I learned so much being able to work one-on-one with him. I was able to truly understand how much work goes into building a brand from the ground up on a local level as well as for an international market.”

One of the best parts of Alejandra’s time in Israel was being able to explore the country on her own. “I took the bus to Caesarea to see the ruins, Kfar Saba to spend Shabbat with family and friends, and Jerusalem for the light festival. But aside from being able to travel around Israel, I loved the atmosphere of my internship. I was very lucky with the relationship I formed with my boss. He quickly became more than just my boss, but an actual friend who I still keep in touch with.”

Coming back to Cleveland, Alejandra credits this internship for helping to further her career in fashion. “Because of this opportunity through Onward Israel, I now have a much clearer path for my future career. I have the hands-on experience – but more than that, I feel more confident talking about fashion, knowing the right language to say, and knowing the business side as well as the creative side. It opened my eyes to more avenues to focus on. This internship gave me a chance to live and breathe fashion for two full months – an opportunity of a lifetime. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

I-Connect, an initiative of Federation, provides young adults in Cleveland with opportunities to experience Israel in whatever way they choose – programs that last 10 days, two months, or one year. These experiences deepen your connection to Israeli life and culture and change your life forever – for the better.

To apply for Onward Israel, visit https://onwardisrael.org/programs/cleveland.To learn more about Onward Israel and apply for other I-Connect programs, contact Rivki Ebner at rebner@jcfcleve.org or 216-593-2921.


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