Wish you could tell Israel’s story, the whole story? In the spirit of spreading knowledge about and appreciation for the beautiful, complex, ancient and yet oh-so-modern Jewish homeland, we are excited to highlight young leaders who are out telling Israel's story in full. As part of our Israel in 3D blog series, we will be sharing interviews with young leaders who are connecting with Israel through the lenses of business, service, advocacy, art and more—and then sharing their passion and understanding with others.
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Tess Niewood is the former President of the TAMID Group's University of Pennsylvania chapter. TAMID is a campus-based nonprofit organization that develops the professional skills of undergraduate students through hands-on interaction with the Israeli economy. Tess is studying healthcare in the Wharton School of Business. She loves to cook and going for an early morning swim.
Just for fun, what hashtag would you use to describe yourself?
We're curious...what will you be up to in 2020?
In 2020, I will still be braving Northeast winters. I also hope to be improving healthcare operations at a major hospital chain.
Now to the heart of the matter...When did you first "meet" Israel? What inspired you to learn more?
I first "met" Israel at a young age on a family vacation. Throughout high school, I had the opportunity to visit Israel multiple times for summer camp, a teen tour and other short visits. After high school, I studied at a seminary in the Gush Etzion region of Israel. Getting to actually live in Israel—not as a tourist—made me fall in love with the culture. I love how everyone is part of a family. Random people on the street aren't afraid to give you advice or lend a hand. I was born into this family and I have loved getting to know it better.
How do you stay connected to Israel today?
As the former President of TAMID at Penn, I got to combine my love of Israel with my academic area of interest. I ran education seminars about the Israeli economy for new members, worked on consulting projects with Israeli startups and oversaw an investment analysis team that focuses on Israeli companies.
I think it's so important to look at Israel not from a political or religious perspective, but through a mostly objective lens. I loved getting to spend hours every week talking about the Israeli economy with equally committed and passionate students.
How do you share Israel with others? What motivates you to do this?
I shared Israel with others by helping to run TAMID. We just tripled in size, and our members include non-Jews, students of all years and academic interests. I wanted to help them take advantage of everything TAMID has to offer.
For instance, this past summer, I had the opportunity to intern in Israel for a company called Genoox. I performed an in-depth competitor analysis and helped to figure out the company's next steps. I sat right next to the CEO every day in an open work space. Two other TAMID interns also worked in the same space with a different startup. I got to meet investors, and spoke up at pitch meetings.
None of this would have been possible without having been part of TAMID. That's part of why I took my role as Chapter President so seriously—I wanted to give our new members the opportunity to learn and grow.
How has your relationship with Israel changed over time?
I no longer see myself as a tourist. I have Israeli friends, favorite Israeli restaurants in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and spots that really feel like home.
If you could tell the world one thing about Israel (or an aspect of Israel) what would it be?
I think it's that Israel is much more diverse than people expect. Every time I go back, I'm part of a slightly different subculture. And it's also a melting pot!
The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation is proud to empower emerging leaders to explore their values, identity and new ways to strengthen their communities. We believe that as we work together to repair the world, it is important to share our diverse experiences and perspectives along the way. We encourage the expression of personal thoughts and reflections here on the Schusterman blog. Each post reflects solely the opinion of its author and does not necessarily represent the views of the Foundation, its partner organizations or all program participants.