Devik Sodha (left-most in the left pic) interned at Technion–Israel Institute of Technology and shares his experience of staying at Israel. Devik is a student at Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University. Read on to discover how his opinion about Israel got changed after this wonderful journey.
It’s so ironical how some incidents can change you and your life.
I study Industrial Engineering at Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University, Gujarat. I had already got used to the routine mundane activities of life, when one fine day, out of a myriads of mails in our Public Mail Folder, one mail with the subject “Sponsorship Proposal for iCreate – e.Xplore Programme at Technion University” caught my attention. It was about an exchange programme at the Technion University – Israel, on Entrepreneurship. I had heard about the Technion University earlier and knew that it is one of the most Elite Institutes for Engineering in the whole world, and considering that I aspired to become an Entrepreneur in the near future, working on my Idea at that time, the opportunity fascinated me.
However, when one thinks about any particular country of this world, he/she would have pre-assumed some perceptions about the country, which might be totally baseless. Same was the case with me. Although I knew how advanced Israel was technically, I thought the people over there might be conservative and the living conditions might not be safe. So I didn’t apply for the programme for the next two days. However, on the third day, a random thought just came to my mind. I work in this youth run organization called AIESEC, which is also the largest in the world, where we envision “Peace and Fulfillment of Humankind’s Potential” by providing the youth of the world, leadership opportunities through International Exchanges. Through these exchanges, we encourage people of around the same age as ours to go to countries which they never thought of going, explore new culture, move out of their comfort zone, overcome stereotypes and have an experience of a lifetime, apart from doing their main work, that is working for a cause/issue in that country. My thought was directly related to this. It struck me that when I myself encourage others to overcome their stereotypes by travelling, why am I reluctant to that? And I filled up the form and applied for the programme then and there. However, it was not that easy as it seems. Considering it was a sponsored programme, the competition was tough, and the programme was open for only 10 students from a target audience of around 300-400 students. So I kept my fingers crossed after filling the application. Almost 3 weeks passed then and I had given up hopes for the programme when suddenly my phone rings up. It was from the Office of International Relations of our University, to congratulate and inform me that I needed to be ready with documents for Visa in the next two days. And the feeling that I had at that moment simply cannot be expressed in words! And trust me, the journey from the day of boarding on the flight from Mumbai to Tel Aviv, when our eyes shone bright & full of excitement, to the day of boarding on the flight back from Tel Aviv to Mumbai, when our eyes were completely moist & full of sentiments, was simply breath-taking and incredible!
The internship, more specifically known as the e.Xplore programme, was aimed at providing the budding entrepreneurs an opportunity to experience Israel’s innovative formula for entrepreneurial success first hand. Why Israel? Simply because Israel, aptly known as a “Start-up Nation” – a small nation of 7.1 million people with third largest start-ups listed on NASDAQ, produces more start-up companies than nations like Japan, China, India, Korea, Canada, and the UK. Israeli hi-tech ecosystem has given birth to a large number of innovations in the fields of ICT, defence, security, computers, medical devices, biotech, and agriculture & agritech domains. The training process started with preparatory studies back in India: background information on the “Start Up Nation” entrepreneurial ecosystem and a case study of an Israeli company, ‘Given Imaging’ that we visited in Israel; it continued in Israel with frontal lectures at the Technion and company visits combined with Israel’s touristic stopovers. The program was a mix of workshops, networking events and industrial visits giving exposure to Israel’s vibrant hi-tech entrepreneurial ecosystem. It also included cultural trips and visits to three different cities of Israel, which gave us an opportunity to explore the Israeli Culture.
I would now refrain from going into detail about the internship and rather stick to just sharing my overall experience. If I were to sum up my experience in one sentence, I would say that it was one of the most intriguing, introspective, inspiring and a life-changing experience for me.
We got to know how a small country with a population almost the same as that of our Ahmedabad, with hostilities on all sides of its borders, and with no proper/sufficient natural resources, managed to prosper so well and is now a developed country as against India still being a developing country, even though Israel got its independence one year later than India. Getting a chance to know the history of this small nation in its very own land was simply inspirational and made us question ourselves, “If they can, why can’t we?”
On interacting with the people over there, I found how frank and welcoming they were, as against my notion of them being conservative. I even got a chance to interact with a lot of international students at the Techninon. And today, I have some really good friends from Israel, Canada, Turkey and Switzerland, who are still in touch with me.
The lectures at the Technion were very insightful, delivered by highly experienced individuals who were also very frank to share with us their experiences and at the same time catered to our queries in the best ways possible. One of the most important learning that I had from the interactions with them was “Failure is the best experience you can get!” I learnt the true meaning of CHUTZPAH which theoretically means Incredible Audacity, however for Israelis, it is an attitude of never giving up and doing everything with full energy and diligence. Obviously, the technical knowledge that we received on how to refine our idea and execute it to have a successful startup, how to go about raising & investing funds, marketing and successfully building & implementing our business plan was immense and will prove to be extremely crucial in my journey of becoming an Entrepreneur.
However, more than the technical knowledge, it was the Global Mindset that I developed is what matters to me more. The transformation that I went through, the relationships that I made, the values that I learnt, is what is more important to me today. The best part of the exchange was that I was reborn. I am now a changed person. The way I look at things, at people around me, my perceptions about Life, about my Country, my Culture and the World as a whole have changed, and they’ve changed for the better. The change might not be tangible enough for others to see it, but I can definitely feel it. And I believe this would not have been possible if I wasn’t a part of this programme, and I would have also never thought of travelling to Israel, if it was not for this programme. Whereas now, I am looking forward to my second visit in the near future. So, I believe it would be unkind of me if I fail to acknowledge the backbones of this programme. Hence, I take this opportunity to express my heartfelt gratitude to my revered college – Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University (PDPU), International Centre for Entrepreneurship and Technology (iCreate), the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, and each & every single person associated with this programme, directly or indirectly!
Lastly, before signing off, I would urge to the youth out there to not restrict themselves to a particular place but move out of their comfort zone. Life is not about just studying for certain hours a day, getting good grades and revolving around a fixed group of people. There is much more to life than this. You got to go out and meet different people and explore different cultures, no matter you’re an engineering student or a commerce student or a medical student. There is another world out there that you don’t know. There is something fascinating about every country in this world, you just need to go out and explore it. And if you feel motivated after reading this (in case you read the whole thing) and want to take the leap of faith, maybe I can help you out!
#ExploringNewWorld #BreakingStereotypes #LivingTransformation
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