Alumni Spotlight: Rachel Shafer

Rachel Shafer studied abroad with ISA in Meknes, Morocco during the summer of 2017. Rachel was an ISA Global Ambassador before graduating from the University of North Texas in 2019. After graduation, Rachel was accepted into The Fulbright Program, where she works as an English Teacher in Tel Aviv. Rachel talks about how her experiences abroad in Meknes are both similar and different to teaching abroad. We reached out to Rachel to learn more!

1. How did studying abroad in Meknes influence your decision to teach English in Tel Aviv? 

Meknes taught me so much about the way in which languages and shared narratives can build connections between different people and cultures, which made me want to work toward shared literacy with communities abroad.  

2. How is your experience in Tel Aviv similar to Meknes? How is it different? 

Living in Tel Aviv has been a huge adjustment because of the language barrier, but I felt better prepared to deal with the challenge because of my time in Meknes. Although Israeli and Moroccan cultures are very different, I’ve found a lot of similarities— the bustling open-air markets, Mediterranean food, a more laid-back lifestyle. 

Floating in the Dead Sea at Kalia Beach

3. What is one of your favorite things about teaching in Tel Aviv? How did Meknes prepare you for your current role? 

My favorite thing about my work as teacher in Tel Aviv is the connections that I get to build with students here. Having studied and having been immersed in a different language has helped me to relate both personally and professionally with my students. Navigating life in Arabic while in Meknes equipped me with the experience to empathize, connect, and develop pedagogy that fits the needs of my students because I was once in their position! 

On camelback in the Sahara desert

4. What is it like being a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Tel Aviv? 

The program has given me great opportunities for personal and professional development. I teach at a college half the week and have the other half to pursue other interests like studying Hebrew and volunteering. In my free time, I work as a research assistant on a project related to Moroccan politics, a topic to which I took interest while studying in Meknes.  

5. Do you have any hobbies that you practice in Tel Aviv? What are some new things that you are learning? 

Tel Aviv is a very fun city, but also an interesting place to learn about Middle Eastern history and current conflicts. I spend a lot of time reading and am hoping to start playing beach volleyball when the weather warms up.  I also take Hebrew classes in the evenings and volunteer at a local school.  

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