Naama Zigdon, Israel
I loved being a student at the Ben Gurion Institute for the Study of Israel and Zionism, as part of the WSISIP Program. I loved the intimate yet professional environment, being a part of an ambitious and driven research community. I enjoyed discussing interesting ideas and notions during and between classes, as well as watching ibexes eating grass and walking in the desert hills through the classroom window.
Hojin Yu, South Korea
My name is Hojin Yu, a Korean student who studied at WSISIP in 2015-2018. I wrote my MA thesis about the Bedouin history during the British Mandate period. I am now employed by the Korean Embassy in Israel and working at the Korean Diplomatic Mission to Palestine in Ramallah.
Recurring the time when I studied in the program, I still feel very grateful about what I enjoyed as a student of the program. One thing I can tell you is that you have such a proper environment to focus on your study and research. I am saying this as both a joke and a compliment. If look around the campus, you will find only a few things that constantly distracts your study - you are in the desert:) Meanwhile, you may exploit what the program equipped: the library, the archive, and the teachers. Second, the program is not in poverty! The financial support the program has been providing is something you never find in this country. All the international programs in other universities of Israel are not so generous as our program. And, the last is that you have a very much caring faculty and administration members in the program. I remember that, thanks to their help, I was able to overcome some hardship during the study.
You can consider them as a new family in the middle of the desert. Thus, my conclusion is that I truly appreciate that I had such a chance to be part of the program.
Jane Jun, South Korea
Looking back to the times I spent at Woodman Scheller Israel Study MA International Program, I can only remember the good things. The breath-taking views of the vast wilderness of the Midrasha, all the ibexes that became my neighbors, the kid-friendly and safe dormitories, English speaking neighborhood that made me—a non-Hebrew speaker—feel at home, friends from all over the world, staff members who helped me and treated me like family, professors who were so patient with all the students and went out of their way to help us succeed in our studies and life in Israel. With a small number of students and faculty members, everyone became as one big family.
Yes, I applied to the school with a clear intention of studying about the Jewish education and getting my masters to prepare me for my future career in the educational field, but truly I gained far more than I had expected and could have asked for. Honestly, it was one of the very few best choices I’ve made in my life.
I miss everyone and the 2 years I spent there. I would also like to thank the school for giving me such a rare and wonderful opportunity to study and experience Israel in the best way possible.
Wang Min, China
I would like to say I was really lucky to be here and studied with a lot of students from all over the world. This was actually my first time to stay abroad for so long time. I was a little unconfident and worried about living in Israel when I came. I don’t know Hebrew, I don’t have any friends in this country, I’m also not an English native speaker. I really don’t know how I can go through the following two years.
But then, I found the people here are very friendly, the teachers, the students, everyone is willing to help each other. It helped me a lot. Gradually, I got used to the way of studying, discussing during the class, how to ask questions or how to start to think differently, this was really hard for me as a student from a comparative conservative country. Then I learned how to express my own opinions, how to write the thesis which I was interested in.
The life here was also completely different from what I’ve lived in China. The weather is dry, people are rare, not so many shops, restaurants, no entertainment at all for the beginning. Slowly, I got to know friends here, we did shabbat dinners together, we held parties for each other’s birthdays, we do care for each other like a family. I was so enjoyable every moment with them.
The experience here for me is not only about studying, also about to know more Israeli culture, the history, the small society here. Thank you so much for offering me such a great opportunity, and I was feeling so grateful to meet so many interesting people and thank you for you all to make my life journey so beautiful.
Diana Kurbanova, Kyrgyzstan
My name is Diana Kurbanova. I am from Kyrgyzstan. I was the first student from my country, who had enrolled in Woodman Scheller Israel Study MA International Program and I hope not the last one because being a part of this program and studying in the BGU was an amazing experience for me - I learned so many new things about Israel and Middle East, about the rich history and culture of this region. In addition, I found a lot of new friends - students from different countries, including Israel, China, Turkey, Armenia,Germany, USA, etc.
It was a pure pleasure studying in such multu-national community. I miss them all, I miss our wonderful lecturers and advisors, who were always eager to help us. I am still keeping in thouch with some of them. And of course I will miss the place Midreshet Ben-Gurion - I will never forget the breathtaking views of the desert and its atmosphere of tranquility and harmony. I would like to thank the Woodman-Scheller International MA Program for this opportunity and I hope that more and more students from all
over the world will come to this magnificent place to study about Israel.
Liz Sieck, USA
I graduated in 2015 from The Woodman-Scheller Israel Studies International Program with a thesis concentrating on Arab-Israeli Identity through the lens of rap music.
As Israel Studies is by its nature cross disciplinarian, the program prepared me for a career in the non-profit sector working with all of the populations represented in Israel. In parallel, the academic rigor and excellent faculty fundamentally altered how I think and approach the world, providing me with the skills, knowledge, and networks needed to live and work in Israel.
I would highly recommend the program to anyone that wants to delve deeper into Israel or Israeli society.
Hao Yun, China
Israel is an amazing country. From my perspective, Zionism is one of the most exciting chapters in the history of “nationalism." I am obsessed with this history, and I marvel at how a nation without land restored its ancient language and rebuilt a state in this conflict-filled region.
In my opinion, BGU is the best choice to study the history of modern Israel. The Ben Gurion Library has a large number of original documents about Israel's history and David Ben-Gurion. BGU also has a great learning atmosphere. The class sizes are small, and they are always conducted in the form of seminars, so students can communicate directly with the professors and ask plenty of questions.
Another advantage of studying at BGU is the twice-a-year tours, which allow foreign students like me to see and experience various aspects of Israeli society. For example, we visited military camps on the Gaza border, Bedouin camps in the desert, diverse kibbutzs—such as those dedicated to promoting peaceful coexistence between Arabs and Israelis and those promoting environmental protection—and heard the story of ethnic minorities in Tel Aviv.
In terms of life outside of school, the Sde Boker campus, where the Israel Studies Institute is located, is situated 40 kilometers south of Beer-Sheva, and many convenient bus lines and campus commuter buses are available to take students back and forth.
Sde Boker is a very suitable place to live. The prices in Israel are expensive, but Sde Boker's dormitory is cost-effective and spacious. (All my friends who visited me from the north admired my dormitory.) In addition, every Purim Festival has a lively celebration parade organized by high school students.
In the beautiful Negev desert, numerous hiking trails are available. In the desert, you can have lunch in a Bedouin tent and see the starry sky of the Milky Way at night.
I love it here. Two and a half years at BGU was a very interesting and wonderful experience for me that I will never forget.