Sarah Broad grew up in New York, attending Solomon Schechter Day School, where she built the basis for her love of Israel. She then studied Business and Economics at the University of Miami. At UM, she worked for the Hillel both on a volunteer basis, as a social activity intern and as a fundraising intern. Here she was able to discover her passion for working in the “Jewish World.” After graduation, she moved back to the Northeast, where she would go on to get a graduate certificate in non-profit management from Rutgers University.
She started working for AABGU in June of 2015 in the New York Region. After more than three years in the New York fundraising department, she took her chance with study abroad. She has been successfully working to recruit and admit young North American students to study for a semester or year at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) since October 2018!
What is your favorite travel memory?
My favorite travel memory is the moment I landed in Israel for my Birthright trip! My whole trip was on a flight that was entirely chartered for the Taglit-Birthright 10-year anniversary. I was already so excited for my trip, as I had heard so many stories from past participants about their amazing experiences. Also, Israel was already such a special place to me that has always felt like a home away from home.
As soon as we got on the ground, we were greeted by hundreds of dancing and singing Israelis that consisted of our peers, soldiers, students, adults, philanthropists, music artists, dancers, and other performers. There was a welcome concert that continued in a nearby hanger. The experience of landing in Israel is magical on its own, but when you factor in this Birthright Israel 10th anniversary celebration, it was spectacular!
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
Since I began working at AABGU four years ago, I have grown tremendously. I have learned to work as part of a team, not only with my team in the US, but also with our team all the way in Israel. I have also learned more about working with young students, which is very different than working with adults. I have learned patience and learned to not leave a single detail out.
What is the best story you've heard from a return student?
This was quite a few years ago already, but my predecessor told me about a couple that met on our program. A female US student was planning to complete her first semester of her senior year in Israel. When she first arrived for Ulpan, she was having a hard time making friends and adjusting to the culture change; she was starting to think she may not even stay for the semester. About three weeks in to Ulpan, she used a joke she learned in class with an Israeli barista at a coffee shop on campus. The two hit it off immediately and she began immersing herself in Israeli culture by spending her time socializing with his friends - other Israeli students. After a few weeks, the pair fell in love and the rest was history. The student ended up staying the semester, as well as the following semester. She then made Aliyah and the couple was married in Israel 2 years later.
If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?
I would definitely participate in the Ulpan program followed by an OSP semester. I would love a chance to spend an extended period of time in Israel and I believe doing so in the Negev is the best way to be exposed to true Israeli culture.
Taking Ulpan before I go would help me learn the language so that I can more easily socialize with the Israeli students on campus. Staying for the semester will not only give me the opportunity to continue studying Hebrew and other courses, but would also allow me to travel throughout Israel with the rest of the students and on my own.
What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?
Our company is unique because not only are we based in New York but we are actually not part of the University. We are technically a US organization that is a marketing and fundraising partner for the University in Israel.
I am especially proud when we do not let the distance between our team in New York and the University in Israel affect how we work together as a team.
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?
I believe the best way to be successful is to be open minded to adapting our program based on the needs and interests of our prospective students. Just because something worked one way for years, doesn’t mean it will work that way forever. We are always looking for feedback from students who attended BGU to study abroad and almost more importantly, from those students who decided to study abroad elsewhere, to see how we can make the program more appealing.