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Sunday, January 27, 2013

YOFHS STEM in Israel - Day 8

Shavua Tov! This post is a little delayed, and the jet lag is beginning to wear off, thank goodness.

On Wednesday, after Shaharit and another great Israeli breakfast at the Dan Panorama in Haifa, the last day of our trip began with a workshop with Venture Capitalist - Jacob Ner-David, the Managing Partner of Jerusalem Capital 1.  Mr. Ner-David explored some of the ideas that the students had, and gave pointers about how to go about bringing an idea for a start-up to fruition. It was a valuable experience and he was happy to share his email contact with our group so that they could stay in touch and continue to benefit from his advice.

We were then on our way to Tel Aviv, to meet with Shai Tsur, the Business Development Manager at Microsoft.  At Microsoft, we learned about the Microsoft Accelerator for Windows Azure.  This program is a unique project where Microsoft provides workspace, mentors, business tools and access to government grants to groups looking to start-up a business.  We met with two groups who interviewed us in order to refine their apps to make it appealing to the market.  We gained an insiders view of the process of marketing a new app, and they gained from the ideas and viewpoints of our group.  An amusing side point - we got there for lunch, and were told that we can use the game room.  We all figured, game room at Microsoft - it must be loaded with X-boxes and other computer games.  Well, we couldn't have been more wrong! It was completely "low-tech" with an air-hockey table, a pool table, a pinball machine, and one racing computer game.  That was a surprise! But when we thought about it, we realized that the people at Microsoft would probably not want to play computer games on their lunch break!

We left Microsoft late in the afternoon and made our way to the old city of Yaffo to explore the shops until it was time to leave for our farewell dinner at the Maganda Middle Eastern Grill in the Yemenite Quarter in Tel Aviv.

During our dinner we went around the table with each one of saying what part of the trip moved us most.  For some it was the people we met, for others the inventions we explored.  Everyone was touched by our experiences with the Chesed Mission and was grateful to have had the opportunity to join them at the army bases.  Sammy Tebeile challenged each of us to take this feeling of inspiration and to act on it quickly, pointing out that we are not only the leaders of tomorrow, we are in fact the leaders of today!Muki, our tour guide, pointed out that we are among perhaps only 100 or so people in the world who have had this experience and it would be important to express gratitude to everyone who helped to make the dream a reality. 

I know that each of the students who joined in the trip will cherish the experience and will draw strength and ideas as they plan their futures.  It will surely help them as they work towards their goals of becoming engineers, businessmen, scientists and the leaders of tomorrow.