My name is Debra and I have had the privilege of watching TALMA grow since its inception in 2014. I first visited TALMA as a Teach for America alumna on a Professional Development program in Israel. That summer, Israel was in the midst of Operation Protective Edge - the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict that began after three young Israelis were kidnapped and murdered. The country was hurting, but when I visited TALMA in the North of Israel, I witnessed diplomacy in action. Young American and international teachers coming to Israel during a time of war, working side by side with Israeli teachers, and CREATING a distraction, a summer of fun and learning, for young children in Israel's most impoverished communities.
I returned to Israel the following summer to help pilot TALMA in its second location, Jerusalem. As a participant, rather than observer, I learned that TALMA is much more than meets the eye. Not only is it a teaching fellowship, but it is a transformative community. It is one thing to be a teacher who works within a school community of other teachers, it is another thing to live within a community of teachers - sharing apartments, cooking, planning, exploring, living...and yes, partying together. We shared our experience in the classroom, our knowledge of best practices, our love of hummus and Mediterranean food, and above all, a passion for what in hebrew is known as 'tikkun olam' a desire to repair the world and make it a better place for EVERYONE in it.
As my summer with TALMA came to a close, I knew I wanted my involvement to go beyond the summer. Fortunately, upon arriving back on US soil, I received an email stating that TALMA was in search of a Recruitment Director. Without hesitation, I applied. Last summer I helped recruit 98 teachers from around the world to help grow TALMA into three new communities: Mitzpe Ramon, Kiryat Malachi, and a bedouin community in the Jezreel Valley. Each summer TALMA's impact is growing bigger - and it is CREATING waves in the Israeli education system. Currently, TALMA is ranked the number one education program in Israel.
With the generosity of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, the Steinhardt Family Foundation in Israel, and the Israeli government, TALMA continues to grow, get better, and create...opportunity for the youth of Israel, incredible experiences for the teachers who participate in our fellowship, and a more equitable and loving world where people from different lifestyles and upbringings come together to 'repair.'
This summer, I am excited to continue my work with TALMA as I embark on my second year as Recruitment Director of the program. TALMA has given me purpose and community, and has empowered me to expand my impact leveraging the people, resources and knowledge I've been gifted as a result of participating. If you are seeking an opportunity to grow personally, professionally, and do so while gifting your time and energy to a most worthwhile cause, I invite you to apply to TALMA and join me, next year in Israel!
TALMA '14 Observer; TALMA '15 Fellow, TALMA '16-'17 Recruitment Director