gap year in israel

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Hey Everyone! My name is Sarah Pomeranz, I am 22, originally from Boston and currently a senior at Rutgers University in New Jersey. At the age of 17, I made one of the smartest decisions of my life – I moved to Israel after high school for a year and became a member of Aardvark Israel Immersion Program’s Class of 2015-16!

I am similar to many Aardvark alumni in that I could eagerly share with anyone who asks me about my gap-year that it was the most impactful year of my life to date, that I made unbelievable friendships and that I would do it again in a heartbeat. I could share how much it deepened my connection to Israel and my Jewish identity, which are both true, but what I think is particularly unique about my Aardvark story is that it really set me on the path to the person I have become as an entrepreneur, global traveler, and someone with a passion for improv comedy. Prior to my gap-year, I had no concept of any of these three elements of my identity and today I have my own start-up, I have traveled to 30 countries, and regularly perform on campus with my school’s improv club.

So how could one year make that much of a change?

Well, while on Aardvark I was able to intern in Tel Aviv at a crowdfunding consulting start-up, which opened my eyes to the world of entrepreneurship. When I came to Rutgers, I started to seek out opportunities to get involved with the entrepreneurial ecosystem here, which culminated in me founding Sulis, a social venture that develops solar-water cleaning technology for communities in India. (If you want to learn more about the start-up, check out my TED Talk!)

Through Aardvark’s International trips, I was able to visit China and the Netherlands and gain an appreciation of their respective cultures and rich histories. I also traveled with some of my incredible new Aardvark friends to countries like Greece, Cyprus, Switzerland and Italy. By the end of the year, I had ignited a very powerful travel bug that compelled me to set the goal of visiting 30 countries by the time I turn 30. Back in December of 2018, I visited Morocco, my 30th country, so I was able to achieve that goal 9 years early!

Lastly, my incredible madrich (counselors) during my Aardvark year would run improv workshops for me and several of my friends. Some of my favorite memories from the year are from goofing around and playing improv games on those Sunday afternoons. I knew that I had to find a way to keep that as a part of my life and when I came to campus, it was one of the first clubs I signed up for!

After *virtual* graduation, I will be moving to Washington D.C. to work as a Strategy Consultant for Accenture – a career that will surely satiate my need for travel. My gap year with Aardvark took place almost 5 years ago and yet I cannot imagine what my life would be like today without it!