My name is Dena Eichen and I am from Vancouver, Washington. The first and only time I came to Israel before Career Israel was in the summer of 2006 on the Alexander Muss High School in Israel program. Not only was Israel an amazing experience because I came from a somewhat closed-minded town where Jews were few, but the time that I was there was very eye-opening. The Second Lebanon War had begun only a few weeks after we had arrived, and it was a complete culture shock. As Israel became more threatened by Hezbollah, I felt more of an impulse to support this country that I had grown to love. Immediately after the Muss program ended, I knew that I needed to come back.
It was not until May 2011 when I had graduated from the University of Arizona with a BFA in Studio Art and a minor in Business Administration that I found the opportunity to return to Israel. I worked at Columbia Sportswear Company as a Quality Control Intern for a few months until I left for Israel to start Career Israel in February. Columbia Sportswear is an internationally-known brand, very much like the place where I intern now, at the David InterContinental Hotel in Tel Aviv. A five-star hotel on the beach, the David InterContinental is part of the InterContinental Hotel Group that has over 4,400 hotels worldwide. I am currently working in reception where I meet and greet guests, perform check-ins and check-outs, and assist guests and visitors with their needs and questions. Working in reception is very fast-paced, demanding, and at times stressful, but the pros surpass the cons and at the end of the day, the job is extremely rewarding. I don’t sit in front of a computer in a cubicle all day. Instead, I meet the most interesting guests from all over the world, and I love the people I work with. The company really takes care of its employees, which is evident in the attitude and demeanor of everyone at work; it is a pleasant and positive atmosphere, even during stressful times.
Participating in Career Israel was one of the best decisions I ever made: from our amazing location in Tel Aviv to all of the trips and seminars. I am not looking forward to these five months ending. It’s hard to choose only one trip or seminar that was my favorite, however, one seminar shed light on the Israeli culture that I had previously been rather unfamiliar with: the economic situation in Israel and the tent cities that arose last summer as part of a large protest. When one of the organizers of the tent cities spoke to us, I got a brief glimpse into what life in Israel is really like. Yes, Israel is set apart by its Jewish identity and Middle East conflict, but like many other countries, its economic situation is less than desirable. Although Israelis are extremely patriotic, not everyone agrees with everything the government decides or implements. I cannot entirely relate to the political/foreign relations situations in Israel, but when someone around my age speaks about not being able to afford a certain standard of living, I can relate. I love Israel, and I am a Zionist, but I find it very important and essential that these Masa Israel programs educate us on the positive and negative aspects of living in Israel.