In the fall of 2012, 20 students made a decision to go on a trip that would change their lives and outlook of the world forever. Under the leadership of two student fellows, Samanatha Gottlieb and Rebekah Barber, Maryland Hillel staff Rabbi Jessica Shimberg, and the Joint Distribution Committee, these students would travel on winter Alternative Break to Ethiopia and experience a new part of the world and themselves. This is the story of that group:
Brina Furman, left, is raising money for JDC's Clean Water Initiative in Ethiopia.
Take a minute and think about your day to day. You probably woke up and used the bathroom, sitting on a flushing toilet and washing your hands with running water. Then you probably brushed your teeth with water straight out of the faucet. Maybe you took a 15-minute shower, using approximately 24 gallons of clean, filtered water. You drank a glass of water out of the kitchen sink while you made breakfast with dishes washed in your dishwasher.
Now rewind and consider what your morning would have looked like if I told you that you no longer have any running or potable water.
That’s what life is like for thousands of Ethiopians. In the country, 60% of all citizens do not have access to clean water – we aren’t talking about running water, but just potable water, with dirt and fecal matter filtered out. That number increases to 70% when you move the conversation to the people living in rural areas.
In January of 2013, I traveled with 19 other University of Maryland students to visit the country of Ethiopia and JDC's projects there. In a twelve-day trip, we explored the capital of Addis Ababa, the third-largest city of Gondar, and rural areas a few hours by car from these major cities. We saw clinics that the JDC is working with Rick Hodes on and met many of his patients. We saw the office of JDC’s micro-finance projects and met many of the women whose lives were changed by the loans. All of this work was incredible and continued to open my eyes to global issues. But nothing struck me like visiting the water wells outside Gondar.
The first well we came to was literally in the middle of nowhere. We had been driving on dirt roads for miles. There was no grocery store, no hotel and no gas station like we’re used to in rural America. There was nothing but huts and farmland, with children running by the car asking for money. Nothing.
Clean water wells drastically lower the rates of illnesses by filtering many bacteria out of the water. But we aren’t just talking about making people feel better: we’re talking about saving lives. Out of 1,000 babies born in Ethiopia, 77 will die before they reach age 5. Many of these deaths can be easily prevented: unclean water causes diarrhea, leading to far too many death by dehydration. Furthermore, many young women have to walk miles a day to reach clean water, preventing them from getting an education. This spirals: education often is the key to raising social economic status. Without a stable economic income, many women are forced to marry early in order to be financially supported.
Today, I’ve vowed to raise money to build a well in the country with JDC. Please visit my fundraising website here. and read about one child’s life that inspired the entire project. Any donation is beyond appreciated! Even if you cannot financially support my goal, please take a moment and share what you've learned with someone else. I am a strong believer that the key to change is awareness. Thank you for your time.
This month, JDC-U at the University of Maryland held a "Shabbat Around the World" Friday night dinner on campus.
Each table represented a different region of the world where the JDC serves and had corresponding JDC facts and figures.
Additionally, the JDC-U board passed around photos from our recent trip to Ethiopia. The event was full of insightful questions and conversation. Attendees were very interested in learning more about all of the wonderful projects that the JDC does and how to get involved with our new student group!
The above photo is the JDC-U board. From the left: Shana Frankel, Jessica Loesberg, Danielle Horn, Zoe Klein, and Brina Furman. We are accompanied by Rabbi Jessica Shimberg (center), and beautiful Calla Lilies (the official flower of Ethiopia) sent from JDC Entwine Steering Committee member (and our amazing group leader!!) Ellie Bressman.
Today I celebrated my 22nd birthday in the beautiful city of Gondar. One year ago today, I never would have thought I would have the opportunity to have an experience like this. It was definitely my most unique birthday thus far and I feel so fortunate to have been able to spend it with this amazing group and on this unbelievable trip.
Once again, we split into two groups today. Half of us went to volunteer at a school while the other half went to continue building the library we have been working on for a few days. My group was working on construction. It was amazing to see the progress we were making on the library walls. By the end of the day, two of the walls were basically completed and the two other ones were halfway up. Someone came up with the idea to make an assembly line to transport the bricks across the construction site and this significantly increased our efficiency and productivity. The village children all gathered and were eager to help us in our assembly line. After a couple of hours of building, we went to the local primary school to meet the principal and donate the school supplies that we all brought from the States. It felt good to be able to provide some of the most vulnerable students with essential school supplies to further their education.
Later in the day, we met for a discussion with a representative from JAFI- the Jewish Agency For Israel. He spoke to us about the history and connection between the people of Ethiopia and the Jewish people. We learned about Operation Moses and Operation Solomon as well as the issues surrounding the Falash Mura Ethiopians that are waiting to make aliyah to Israel.
After that we had our third group reflection. As a group, we spoke about the importance of providing all people with their basic needs such as clean water and adequate sanitation. We struggled to figure out the complex debate about who we are responsible for and what our responsibilities are in our lifetime.
For dinner, we went to a local beer garden. We had a good time spending one last night in Gondar together. When we got back to the Goha hotel, we went outside and spent some time looking up at the beautiful, clear night sky. It was a perfect way to end our last night in the gorgeous city of Gondar.
Today we went to work. We split up into two groups: one group went to a small village on the outskirts of Gonder to build a school library with the local people and the other group drove far out to a rural school to teach English through interactive games.
Many of the village children came to work, play, and just watch us as we worked. Just carrying bricks from the top of the hill to the construction site produced an entourage. We helped carry cinderblocks to the site of the library while stopping occasionally to observe and play games. Manual labor in the strong sun was something new to a lot of us, yet the camaraderie and progress effected a feeling of great satisfaction. After lunch, our group had the opportunity to play in a volleyball game against a team comprised of Ethiopians. It seemed as if the entire village came out to watch us play! There were lots of cheering and jeering and our group really connected with them.
After returning to the hotel and showering, we – and our new sunburns – went to visit the recipients of a JDC scholarship for nursing school at Gonder University. Each year the JDC awards this scholarship to a number of women in the area. It was nice to learn about this program and the women who would probably not attend university if not for this opportunity. We then returned to the hotel to watch the African sunset and eat dinner together.
The whole day I continually had to remind myself that it is only Monday. Only five days have passed, and still I feel that I have been exposed to more than I have been for the four other weeks of my break combined.
Yesterday, as you read, we arrived in Gondar which was a very different experience than was Addis Ababa. Here many of the students in our group feel that they are encountering the “Africa experience” they were expecting based on the media observed in America. We found ourselves struggling with internal conflict when small, underfed children reached their hands out and all we give them is a smile.
Today, however, was more encouraging. We began our day at the JDC health clinic in Gondar, distributing medication to children aged 6-16 to rid them of “worms,” and “Plumpy Nut” bars (nutritional supplements) to pregnant women. The children here were not begging, and many of them were part of the Falish Mora, awaiting their emigration to Israel. Many of them spoke Hebrew and it felt great to finally be able to communicate and relate to the children and teens and not merely feel sympathy for them.
Our day continued as we drove to the center of the city to the historical castles built by past Emperors. The castles were huge and beautiful, built from stone, displaying huge rooms with high ceilings and gorgeous grounds.
We were then privileged to accompany Elizabeth and Max (JDC fellows) to the school in which they teach English. The school is ninth and tenth grade, with about 60 students per classroom. We were introduced to one of the classes and then told to disperse amongst them and speak with them in English. The students varied in their levels, but they also varied in age---the three girls with whom I spoke were 14, 15 and 16---all in the ninth grade.
It was inspiring to speak with them and here about their aspirations for the future. The 14-year old girl spoke great English and she told me she wants to go to Oxford University for college and become a doctor. I can only imagine what these students could accomplish if provided the same educational and financial opportunity as myself.
Our night ended with dinner at a local hotel with doctors from Baylor College who are working in Gondar short-term with a partnership with JDC. Students enjoyed hearing about their travels all over the world, interested in the opportunities available to them in the future with regard to medicine, travelling, and planning their futures in general.
On Saturday morning, some of us went on a hike on the outskirts of the city. The rest of us, including myself, went on a walk around the neighborhood near the hotel. For me, one of the most striking parts of the walk was going through the upscale part of the neighborhood. We were able to glimpse at the massive houses behind the high security walls. However, it was not too far from the beggars and shanties that populate most of the rest of the city.
We had lunch with students from Unity University, a private university in Addis Ababa. The women we ate with had all received scholarships from the JDC to attend Unity as part of its initiative to empower females. This was especially significant for those who were not from Addis and for those who were the first in their families to attend university. Most of the women were first-year accounting students. We also had the chance to hear from one of the administrators of the university (a former journalist) and some graduates who were gainfully employed at different companies in Addis. Afterwards we played an icebreaker game with the students by finding students from the opposite university who could do something or knew something about their own culture. For example, Unity students were told to look for someone from Maryland who knew the name of the current prime minister of Ethiopia or who knew the words to the chorus of “Call Me Maybe” (none of us knew the former). Conversely, we were told to find a Unity student who knew who the first president of the United States was or who knew the lyrics to a song by a famous Ethiopian artist. (None of them identified George Washington as the first president, though I met one student who guessed Lincoln.)
We then had a reflection session among ourselves where we discussed our reactions to the myriad of experiences we had had over the past couple of days. We also had our first (of five) text-based discussion on the issue of, as Jews, the degree of our responsibility to help others. This is especially relevant to our trip since we are Jews who are helping non-Jews. Moreover, we all feel overwhelmed by the amount of problems in Ethiopia, let alone the rest of the world. How can we possibly make a dent with any of the myriad of issues that plague the country? What can be expected of us? What is realistic? Some biblical, Talmudic, and contemporary texts helped us grapple with these challenges.
Next, we had a discussion with Manlio Dell’Ariccia and Will Recant about some of the history of the JDC. Will had actually just flown in from Rwanda where he was visiting the JDC fellows stationed there. We then had a discussion with Sam, Menachem, and Rebecca who are currently JDC Jewish Service Corps fellows in Addis. Sam and Menachem are year-long fellows, while Rebecca is a short-term fellows (she has also completed other short-term JDC fellowships in other locations around the world). We asked them everything about working for the JDC in Addis, like the nature of their work, why they signed choose to do a JDC fellowship, and what is was like to be a Westerner in Addis for an extended period.
We concluded Shabbat with a nice havdalah. Later, we went out for dinner at a crowded restaurant. It was filled with wealthy Ethiopians, Westerners, Asians, and a group from the United Arab Emirates. Throughout the meal, a group of musicians and dancers entertained everyone on stage. There was also a wedding at the restaurant. Later, many of us went up on stage and danced with the dancers! It was quite a sight, and it seemed like many of the patrons found our dancing the most entertaining part of the evening.
The next day, we gathered in the lobby at 5:30am to catch an early flight to Gondar. We flew a propeller jet to what was the smallest airport I have ever been to. Upon landing, we met with Liz and Max who are JDC Jewish Service Corp fellows stationed in Gondar. They spend their time teaching ninth-grade English at a large public school and monitoring water wells installed by the JDC in some of the nearby villages.
Though Gondar is Ethiopia’s third-largest city, it has the feel of a small town. Unlike Addis, it feels like a larger rural village than a bustling city. Gondar has special significance for the JDC, since it used to be home to most of Ethiopia’s Jews. Early on, JDC focused its work in this city to help the Jews there move to Israel. Many Jews traveled from villages, near and far, to fulfill their dream of seeing Zion. To facilitate the move, the JDC built a medical clinic to screen everybody and to provide them with assistance in making the transition from rural Ethiopia to urban Israel.
Upon arrival, we went straight to an elementary school in a local village. The JDC was funding the building of the school and we helped construct the lavatories (not all schools in rural areas have one). This included hauling cinderblocks from one area to the site of the future lavatories, making cement, and using those materials to build the wall for the building. Local workers who were already working at this site guided us. We also spent time playing with the kids who had gathered to watch us work.
After lunch at the hotel, we visited the Teda Medical Clinic that the JDC established in 1986, during the first wave of Ethiopian migration to Israel. Interestingly, a plaque notes the clinic’s founding by the Ministry of Health and the “American Joint Distribution Committee”—not the “American Jewish JDC.” This is because in 1986, Ethiopia was run by a communist regime that was anti-Zionist and did not approve of touting the clinic’s Jewish origin. Indeed, JDC was only allowed to work in Ethiopia on the condition that they served both Jews and non-Jews. Today, the clinic is still running even though almost all of the local Jews have left.
We then drove to a nearby village to visit a water well that was paid for by the JDC. The JDC works closely with the local water authority to determine where to build clean water wells. The well that we visited is situated next to a stream. Before the well was built, villagers would get their water from that stream where their animals also drank. This caused many health issues for the villagers. After the well was built, the villagers reported a drastic decrease in water-borne infections. Still, there are problems related to water for the villagers. Chief among them is that the job of transporting the water from the well to people’s homes usually falls on girls and young women. They must carry twenty-five liter jugs to their homes, which sometimes takes up to two hours. Thus, these women spend most of their day and energy just transporting water.
Next, we drove to a village outside of Gondar, Ambober, that used to be home to many Jews, including the current Israeli ambassador to Ethiopia. We went inside the village’s synagogue, which is mostly empty, except for some benches, a modest library of Jewish texts, and a couple of plaques commemorating the community that used to reside there. Adjacent to the synagogue is a building for harvesting bees that the JDC built to help some of the Jews there make some money. Afterwards, we toured an elementary school that is right next to the synagogue. We concluded our busy day with dinner at a local restaurant.
After 48 hours awake, we all slept like logs last night and woke up feeling much refreshed. After enjoying breakfast with traditional Ethiopian coffee, we split into two groups to go see successful businesses that were formed from micro-loans granted to local Ethiopians by the JDC. One of these enterprises was a small restaurant formed by 11 mothers. For only 1100 Birr for each mother ($222) they were able to create a prosperous restaurant. It took the mothers over 3 years, but they finally finished paying off the total loan. It was amazing to see how much this small loan motivated them to work and better their own families. After seeing these micro-finance projects, we went to the WISE building. JDC partners with WISE to grant these loans.
WISE empowers local women to create enterprise and to live independently. It was incredible to see how much of a difference this project made for the well-being of the community.
We ate with the Israeli Ambassador to Ethiopia for lunch. This was cool because she was an Ethiopian born Israeli and had returned to Ethiopia to represent Israel. We could tell she took a lot of pride in this. After lunch, we went to the clinic that Dr. Hodes worked. This was an amazing experience and we truly understood why his work was so important. We went to dinner at his house and had a unique Shabbat with his entire family composed of his adopted children. It truly was an amazing experience. We are looking forward to tomorrow. Shabbat Shalom!
We have had a busy two days in Ethiopia. We arrived at approximately 7:00 A.M. and waited in a long line to go through customs, and then waited some more to get our luggage. After we all had our stuff, we left the airport and were greeted by our bus driver who held up a sign that read “American Gewish.” He was very friendly and shook all of our hands individually to introduce himself, just like all of the other Ethiopian people we have met. We then boarded two buses and headed towards the Desalegn Hotel and got our first taste of driving in Addis Ababa. The roads are packed and there are no traffic rules; it’s crazy!
After some time to shower and relax, we then met up with the JDC’s Country Director of Ethiopia, Manlio Dell’Arcia, who debriefed us on the history of JDC’s work in Ethiopia. After getting some background, we finally had our first Ethiopian meal! Ethiopian food consists of injera, which is a sour, spongy bread used to eat everything here, along with various different stews. After a delicious lunch, we finally met the famous Dr. Rick Hodes, JDC’s medical director for Ethiopia. He is a true inspiration - dedicating his life to providing medical care to Ethiopians in his clinic in Addis Ababa. There is a very clear disparity of wealth in this country, and there is only one doctor for every 40,000 Ethiopians. Due to a lack of education, access to preventative healthcare and reliance on traditional healers, many patients come to Dr. Hodes with unfortunate effects from diseases that have been long-eradicated in the developed world.
Following our initial meeting, we all headed as a group to the “Mercato,” the largest open-air market in Africa. It was a loud, crowded and bustling market with various alleys and streets to turn. We all stayed as a group and followed each other through various paths and saw how people in Addis Ababa do their shopping. There were vendors for all sorts of items; anything from spices to trinkets to chickens. The narrow alleys were for two-way traffic and carrying large items, most often carried on vendors’ heads. We often had to dodge various items and make sure not to get hit. Everyone was very friendly and surprised to see so many Westerners at once. People often reached out their hands to greet us and were very warm and friendly. The market was truly a unique experience, so many sights, sounds and smells all at once!
After our time at the Mercato, we drove in traffic to a restaurant for dinner, where we had a traditional Ethiopian meal and entertainment. The restaurant was tucked onto the side of a busy Addis road, and the 20 of us emerged lethargically from our vans after a packed first day, unaware of the incredible evening awaiting us. A traditional Ethiopian restaurant, we sat around round tables just big enough to fit a tray of injira topped with vegetables and different classic Ethiopian dishes. We ripped off pieces of the bread and mixed it with the vegetables for an incredible meal. Soon after we began eating, three men in traditional dress began to play different songs for us and two male and two female dancers came on stage and began to perform. Over the next two hours the musicians and dancers performed different songs and dances from each region of the country. They also began pulling up members from our tables onto the stage to dance with them. What had begun as a weary group of travelers, we found ourselves dancing to the music, enjoying the beauty of traditional Ethiopian culture.
In the fall of 2012, 20 students made a decision to go on a trip that would change their lives and outlook on the world forever. Under the leadership of Maryland Hillel staff Rabbi Jessica Shimberg, two student fellows, Samanatha Gottlieb and Rebekah Barber, and the Joint Distribution Committee, these students would travel to Ethiopia and experience a new part of the world and themselves. This is the story of that group:
In 4 short days, 19 fellow University of Maryland students and myself, Diana Peisach, will travel to Ethiopia with the help and guidance of Maryland Hillel and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee for a new type of winter break, an “Alternative Break”. Through this incredible program they have created, we will spend 8 days split between the cities of Addis Ababa and Gondar participating in social justice and interacting with the local community. Through volunteering in schools, visiting new clean water well sites, meeting Dr. Rick Hodes and many other activities, we will learn more about the community and efforts of the JDC in Ethiopia, while hopefully making an impact ourselves. As our departure date nears, feelings of both excitement and nervousness are most definitely surging through each member of our group. With a collection of students as outstanding and devoted as the 20 selected for this trip, I know we will all do great. So before I go on any further, I would like to introduce our Winter 2013 Ethiopia Alternative Break group!
Samantha Gottlieb: Hey my name is Sami Gottlieb and I am from Syosset, NY. I am currently a junior Biology major with a minor in Sustainability Studies at the University of Maryland. Although I have plans to one day attend medical school, I would love to do some sort of non-profit work either before or after. I went with the JDC last year to Ukraine and had the most amazing time so I cannot wait to work with them again! I love seeing the world and learning about all the ways that I can make a difference.
Rebekah Barber: Hi! My name is Rebekah Barber and I’m from Seattle, Washington! I’m a candidate for a double-degree in Economics and Government & Politics. I’m currently part of the UMD Mock Trial team and I’m a member of the greatest sorority on campus, Sigma Delta Tau! I play intramural sports, and my coed volleyball team, Safe Sets, just won the championship this past spring! Last spring break I traveled to Ukraine with 20 other incredible students and had the most inspiring and eye opening experience, as we repaired the JDC’s Chesed center and connected with the greater Ukrainian community! I’m psyched for another Alternative Break and even more stoked to be leading a service trip with an amazing team!
Jamie Austin: Hi! My name is Jaime Austin and I am from Marietta, Georgia. I am a sophomore American Studies major and hope to double major in history and eventually become a history teacher. At the University of Maryland I am involved with College Park Scholars and Lakeland STARS, as well as, Sigma Delta Tau. This is my first time going on an alternative break and I'm so excited to have the opportunity to travel to Ethiopia with you all!
Shoshana Beacken: Hi, I am Shoshana Beacken and I'm from Randolph, New Jersey where I attended the Hebrew Academy of Morris County and graduated from Randolph High School. Currently, I am a Sophomore majoring in Biology at the University of Maryland. In the future, I hope to pursue a career in either dentistry or medicine. This will be my first time traveling to Ethiopia, and I could not be more excited to go on this amazing trip!!
Tara Feld: Hi! My name is Tara Feld and I am from Los Angeles, California. I am currently a junior Psychology major and I hope to go to school to become a Physician's Assistant after I graduate. On campus, I am involved with a number of student organizations such as TerPAC, Challah for Hunger and Better Together. I have always had a passion for volunteering and I cannot wait for this opportunity to go to Ethiopia!
Brina Furman: My name is Brina Furman and I was born and raised in the lovely city of Baltimore, Maryland. I am a senior Sociology major with a minor in Special Education at UMD, with the hopes of attending graduate school for Social Work. I have a horrible shopping addiction, true passion for mac n cheese, and would do anything to get paid to travel the world. This is my first time to Africa and I am absolutely beyond excited for the opportunity.
Dillon Hagius: Hi. My name is Dillon Hagius and I am senior international business major in the process of applying to law schools. I went on JDC-UMD's Ukraine trip last spring break, so I am looking forward to learning about the JDC's work in Ethiopia. This year, I am leading a Hillel fellowship in conjunction with the National Collation for the Homeless, so I am particularly interested in learning about the legwork that goes in to running a successful NGO/NPO.
Tatiana Hasson: I am Tatiana Hasson and I was born and raised in Boston, MA. I am a sophomore Community health major but I took a gap year in Israel after high school, where I spent my time learning, traveling and volunteering. I am very involved in extra-curriculars on campus, particularly among the Jewish community. I am part of the Jewish Student Union, Shalom Zionists at Maryland, and I am an engagement intern for HIllel. I love meeting new people, experiencing new things, and giving to those who are less privelaged than I am. I am really looking forward to an awesome, meaningful trip in Ethiopia!
Danielle Horn: Hi! My name is Danielle Horn and I am from Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. I am a sophomore double majoring in Middle School Education and Family Science. During my time at the University of Maryland I have been very involved in Hillel and the Alternative Break program is an amazing opportunity that is offered. I enjoy traveling and my curiosity for Ethiopia peeked when I was a counselor for Ethiopian girls this summer. I can’t wait to learn about the community there and share wonderful experiences with my group members!
Elizabeth Horwitz: Hi. My name is Elizabeth Horwitz and I was born and raised in Manhattan, New York. I am a senior studying History at the University of Maryland. I am extremely passionate about traveling and love to learn about new cultures and connect with people from all over the world. I am really excited for this opportunity to go to Ethiopia and experience apart of the world that I haven't been to.
Lexie Kahn: Hi! My name is Lexie Kahn and I am originally from New York City. I am currently a junior Supply Chain Management and Communications double major at the University of Maryland. I am extremely passionate about my Judaism and social justice and cannot wait to bring the two together in Ethiopia! Though I have participated in other alternative breaks before, I am very excited for the new challenges and experiences that this one will bring!
Zoe Klein: My name is Zoe Klein and I am from Dallas, Texas. I am currently a junior Psychology major, as well as pre-med. During my gap year in Israel I had the opportunity to work with young Ethiopian girls twice a week and I am counting down the days until I can learn more about their country's culture and people firsthand! I am greatly looking forward to getting to know everyone and seeing a whole new part of the world!
Rebecca Kraut: Hi, my name is Becca Kraut and I am a freshman at UMD. I am from Baltimore, MD and have two older sisters. I am still undecided as for my major, but I love it here! Hillel is one of my favorite spots on campus, I think the Jewish community it builds is a huge asset to Jewish life at Maryland. I volunteered last year at an Ethiopian absorption center in Israel and so I cannot wait to learn more about their culture and where they come from. I am excited for this trip and ready to be challenged and inspired!
Akiva Lichtenberg: I am from Teaneck, NJ and am now a sophomore majoring in psychology and taking premed courses. I am also in the Global Public Health Scholars program which sparked my interest in this trip and in health issues in underdeveloped countries. I have also heard of Dr. Hodes and have done JDC programming in the past and am excited to do more work with them in Ethiopia.
Jessica Loesberg: I am Jessica Loesberg and I'm from Lawrenceville, New Jersey and a double major in history and communication with a minor in Spanish. On campus, I am part of the Global Communities Living and Learning Program, a campus tour guide, a brother of Phi Alpha Delta law fraternity, member of the History Undergraduate Association and various other activities. I love traveling and cannot wait to experience our trip to Ethiopia!
Ilana Lupovitch: I am Ilana Lupovitch from Chicago, Illinois where I graduated from Ida Crown Jewish Academy. I am currently majoring in Public Health, but I will be applying to nursing school next fall. I am part of Global Communities, which is a living and learning program here at Maryland which has really sparked my interest for global studies. I one day hope to travel the world as a nurse to help other people. I am the oldest of four kids in my family. I seriously CANNOT WAIT to go to Ethiopia with everyone!
Diana Peisach: Hi! My name is Diana Peisach and I am from Baltimore Maryland. I am a senior Communications major and will be graduating this Spring. Throughout college I have been highly active in my sorority Sigma Delta Tau and the Jewish Student Union. Although I have always participated in community service work, this will be my first alternative break trip. I am so excited for everything we are about to experience in Ethiopia and the impact it will have on us all!
Mira Chaya Rosen: Hey! My name is Mira Chaya Rosen (you guys can call me Mira if you want) and I'm from Los Alamitos, CA. I am currently a freshman architecture major but I'm not really sure what I want to do after college yet. I absolutely love to travel and experience new cultures so I can't wait to go on this trip with you guys!
Elissa Rosner: Hi! My name is Elissa Rosner and I am from Cleveland, Ohio. I am a sophomore majoring in Psychology and I am currently pre-dental. I am in the Global Public Health Scholars program and this is what sparked my interest in going to Ethiopia. I have never been on an alternative break trip before but I am so excited to go and experience another culture!
Jared Stein: Hi. My name is Jared and I am originally from Boston. I often find myself in new and intriguing situations and I love trying new things, even if they are outside of my comfort zone. I spent a year in Israel after high school volunteering, traveling, and studying, that shaped much of who I am today. At the University of Maryland I have stayed busy working with Hillel, Habitat for Humanity and many more organizations! I am excited for the incredible opportunity to travel to Ethiopia and for all of the experiences that await us there!
We are all so excited for this incredible trip and can't wait to share our experiences with you! Stay tuned for much more to come.