During spring break of 2017, I traveled to Israel with 25 Tuck classmates for our Global Insight Expedition (GIX), guided by our two fearless leaders, professors Adam Kleinbaum and Daniella Reichstetter T’07. I would also be remiss if I forgot to mention our tour guide, Ori Abramson, who was a tremendous help. (No seriously, Ori was awesome!) The purpose of the trip was to study the impact of technology and entrepreneurship in Israel, specifically through the cities of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, while also getting a taste of Israeli culture.
Before departing for Israel, our group met several times to gain an understanding of Israel’s history and also of each other’s history, both of which proved to be crucial to our in-country experience. While we were all Tuckies, we each represented myriad backgrounds including bankers, educators, animal rights activists, and even a former Olympic handball player. And although each of us might have had our own personal reasons for attending this particular GIX, we all shared a deep passion for learning about the unique history of the “Start-up Nation.”
Our GIX began in Jerusalem where we spent time truly becoming immersed in the ancient history of Israel. Our visits included Yad Vashem, the Old City, the Wailing Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Masada, and the Ein Gedi. These experiences provided a foundation for what we would see for the rest of our trip while also connecting the historical and political learnings from our classroom sessions at Tuck. On our last day in Jerusalem, we even took a swim in the Dead Sea (and yes, you can in fact float). The second half of our trip was in Tel Aviv—and to say that Jerusalem and Tel Aviv were different would be a gross understatement. While Jerusalem represented heritage and tradition as a crossroads of the world’s largest religions, Tel Aviv was the quintessential modern city with skyscrapers and a bustling night life. During our time in Tel Aviv we met with local Israeli companies and entrepreneurs including a tour of Netafim, the Center of Digital Innovation, Sadara Ventures, Winward, Colu, and Google. Although Tel Aviv was the “modern” hub of Israel, the passion and love for the nation by its people could be felt in our every interaction.
This GIX proved to be both challenging and enriching. Before this trip, I had only been outside the United States one time for a study abroad experience in Brussels, Belgium while I was in college. And even still, there is so much overlap between European and American cultures that it did not feel “too foreign.” The Israel GIX was my first experience being in a country that was vastly different from my own and it forced me to think critically and empathetically about the world outside of the one that I knew. It was because of this that I was able to gain a better appreciation for the diversity and adversity that truly moves our world forward. My only regret for our trip was that it could not be longer. But that only leaves a good excuse to visit again soon.
Michael Tensley is a first-year student at Tuck. He grew up in Columbia, SC and attended Furman University, where he majored in business administration. Prior to Tuck, he worked as a business manager for Acosta Sales and Marketing in the consumer packaged goods industry. This summer he will be interning at Proctor & Gamble in Cincinnati, OH as an associate brand manager.