This piece is part of an ongoing series called With Love From. You can read the rest of the articles here. If you would like to send some love from your corner of the world this semester, please contact Precious ([email protected]), Helen ([email protected]), Lyon ([email protected]), Adaobi ([email protected]), or Arden ([email protected]).

The First Leap to the Unknown!

Shalom! A zoom-load of love from Israel, the only country in the world with more trees today than it had 50 years ago. Meet Nicole Levin, an Israeli from the class of 2024.

Nicole is from Beer’ Sheba (pronounced Beer Sheva), a desert region in the south of Israel. In Nicole’s words, Beer’ Sheba is a historic city in Israel with a vibrant Middle Eastern touch, noteworthy for supporting people with varying nationalities ranging from Russian to Ethiopian. 

Beer’ Sheba is also a trade center for the nomadic Bedouin tribes of the Negev. “The Bedouins always travel with camels because it is a desert region. As a child, I would run out to watch the camels carrying the Bedouins as they travel. As a nomadic tribe, they move around a lot, but now it is different, everything has changed, and the city has gotten bigger.” 

The war has had a lasting impact on the Israeli community. Nicole noted that the Israelis are very laid back people, with greetings that involve lots of hugs and a culture of direct communication. She also recognized the influence of the American culture on the Israeli media, with very few media stations broadcasting in Hebrew. 

Due to its diverse population, Beer’ Sheba is home to various intercontinental dishes that Nicole loves. Nicole loves to travel, and she reminisced on her first visit to the United States and how the cuisine was different.

“I visited New York, and I tried to get the hummus that I liked, the green pea hummus, but it did not taste the same. Then I concluded that the best hummus is back home”. 

Enjoying homemade food has been one of Nicole’s favorite experiences this semester. Currently experiencing her first Minerva community virtually, she knows that the experience would not be the same without her classmates. She hopes to meet everyone in the spring. On the bright side, studying virtually has provided her with ample time to spend with her family. 

Before Minerva, Nicole served in the army for over two years as a cultural reporter with the radio. In her role, she interacted with people on the war’s cultural influence and produced shows about it. Her role provided a communication platform to engage with the people and report the nation’s status during the unrest.

“By serving in the Army, I felt like I was called to tell the story of the amazing deeds of others; I am the storyteller bringing their sacrifices to light.” This experience also inspired her to enroll in Minerva. In the army, Nicole was also challenged with the stigmatization faced by non-combat soldiers. “I encountered words like “a soldier does not equal a journalist; it felt as if I was not doing enough as a journalist.” 

However, those experiences motivated her to use her media to bring cheerfulness to the people.

Nicole is passionate about transformative education and is a huge fan of Ken Robinson, an educational advisor, who inspired her love for reforming education. “I saw his famous Ted talk when I was in 10th grade, and since then, I have been passionate about different approaches to education, and possible ways to change the education system in Israel.” 

“With Minerva, I think I am experimenting with the different types of education on myself.” Although Nicole is still uncertain about the unconventional Minerva education, her love for non-traditional education has inspired her to take bold steps. Nicole loves to travel and explore the world. Her dream was to travel and study; before she got accepted into Minerva, she planned a one year trip around Asia to interact with the people. Though the pandemic halted her one-year exploration plan, Minerva has brought her an ample opportunity to travel the world with their offer letter.  

As a remote student, she has connected virtually with her classmates and shared her unique virtual experience with the Minerva community. Communicating with her classmates has left her anticipating the spring semester when she hopes to meet everyone in person eventually.  

In parting, Nicole said: “I wish people would see beyond themselves and take advantage of Minerva’s diverse community to interact with other people from different parts of the world, it is part of education, and it would help you know the world around you.”

Nicole looks forward to the continued virtual interaction with her classmates and hopes that everyone develops open-mindedness in interacting with other people.

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