Emily: Onward Participant Spotlight

Tags: Israel, Overseas, I-Connect, Young Adults

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Emily Friedman shares her experience as an Onward Israel participant.

My name is Emily Friedman and I am interning at the startup Daystage.

I can honestly say that living in Tel Aviv for the past two months has been the happiest two months of my life. There is something about this city and the people in it that give me life and happiness. While we went on many trips around Israel throughout the summer, the trip that impacted me the most was the trip to Florentine for the Graffiti Tour. Going to Florentine is part of what made me fall in love with Tel Aviv. Walking through the streets of Florentine, I couldn’t help but feel the rebellious artistic vibes that are so clearly illustrated on the many walls and storefronts throughout the city. The nonconforming artist inside me felt right at home. I also felt so comfortable in Florentine because of the fact that it is an underdog city just like my home city Cleveland. I have a special place in my heart for cities that are written off as old and decrepit only to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and transform their identity. The underdog mentality is something I believe runs through Israeli society and it is something that I truly resonate with.

Leaving Tel Aviv now is not as easy as I thought it would be. When I first applied for this program three months ago, I honestly wasn’t that excited. I had already been to Israel for a week when I was younger and I thought I had already experienced what Israel has to offer. Looking back now, I can see how wrong I was. What I didn’t realize then is that I had never experienced all that Tel Aviv has to offer. There is such a big difference between visiting a city for a few days and living in a city for a few months. When you live and work in a city, you start to get a feel for how the society works and what makes the locals the way they are. I can’t explain why, but leaving Israel to go back to Cleveland makes me feel like I am leaving home; The same feeling I got when I left for college the first time. The people of Tel Aviv and the city itself are a part of me. Leaving my city and the family I have made is hard now, but knowing I will be back one day is the only thing that keeps away the tears.

Daystage is an online platform that helps musicians and artists get discovered and booked for shows. With so much competition in today’s world of immediate gratification from social media, it can be hard for talented musicians to get noticed. Daystage allows users to watch, vote for, and share videos by emerging and major artists from around the world.

Working at Daystage this summer has completely changed my view on the world of startups, and the Israeli work force. Before this experience, I never really appreciated just how much passion and hard work goes into starting and maintaining a startup company. Considering the fact that most startup companies incur no money in the beginning, it is amazing that anyone can stay motivated long enough to come to the office and put in the long hours every day. That’s where the drive and motivation comes in. If you truly believe that there is purpose behind what the company does, then all the late night and early morning work days seem worth it.

I am also very impressed with the Israeli workforce as a whole. The general level of education in the startup community is higher than one might think. When imaging a group of four young guys working in a garage, it might come as a surprise that there are four degrees in computer science in that garage as well. But this high level of education is actually very prevalent in the startup community in Israel. This is what I find so impressive about the startup community in Israel. I have truly fell in love with Israel during my time here and I plan to come back as soon as I possibly can.

Please feel free to contact me at friedman.413@osu.edu, for any questions or more information about the Israel Experience, Onward Cleveland program.

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Learn More: Israel, Overseas, I-Connect, Young Adults