TALMA: A Life-Changing Opportunity for Educators Passionate About Israel

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Debra Feinberg is Recruitment Director at the TALMA program, an immersive summer-long teaching experience that brings talented educators to Israel to improve elementary school students' English language skills. Below, Debra reflects on her personal experience in the program and its opportunities for leadership, personal and professional development.

If you are an educator with a passion for social justice, raise one finger.

If you are seeking an opportunity to gain international teaching experience, expand your network and position yourself as a leader in the fight for educational equity, raise three more.

If you are looking to strengthen your Jewish identity or gain a deeper understanding of the Jewish State through an immersive personal journey through Israel, add one more finger.

If you find yourself raising your hand, the TALMA program might be just what you're looking for.

As the Recuitment Director for TALMA—Israel's National Program for Excellence in English—I want to share with you an exciting summer professional development opportunity that meets and exceeds all of the above criteria.

Supported by the Israeli Ministry of Education, the Schusterman Family Foundation and the Steinhardt Foundation, TALMA is an all expenses paid trip that brings teachers from around the world to work alongside Israeli educators in an English immersion program for low-income students in the Israeli periphery. 

But why commit to an entire summer of volunteer teaching—unpaid? Why, after a school year of working hard for too little pay, would you sign up to teach for free? I know those concerns well, because that's where my head was a year ago. But TALMA is not your typical teaching experience, and this "summer of giving" is not just a one-way street. Rather than further draining my energy, participating in this program renewed it. 

As a dedicated educator, Teach for America alumna and a product of the TALMA Fellowship, I can attest to the benefits of joining TALMA's dynamic community:

  • Opportunities for professional development, including collaboration with a global cohort of teachers. The people you work and live alongside are a constant source of inspiration!
  • Opportunities to strengthen your Jewish identity, while experiencing Israel as a professional instead of a tourist. Your housing options include an apartment in the bustling center of Jerusalem or a thriving kibbutz in the Israeli countryside—taking you on a visual and cultural journey, as well as a personal one!
  • Opportunities to connect with a network of Jewish leaders at the forefront of the social justice in education movement. You'll leave Israel with new friends and connections who, together, form a sphere of influence that is both powerful and far-reaching.
  • Opportunities to gain new skills and perspectives through interactive workshops with incredible organizations—such as PresenTense's "Innovation Workshop" or Uncommon Schools' "Values Activites" workshop. You will be challenged, inspired and moved to action as you learn to leverage your abilities to enact real and sustainable change.
  • Opportunities to expand your knowledge of Mediterranean cuisine. I currently hold a PhD in Hummus and Falafel Studies.
  • Opportunities to grow in ways that last beyond the summer. Joining the TALMA program makes you a better, stronger and more impactful educator upon your return and throughout your career.

TALMA is more than a summer of volunteer teaching—it is a summer of learning, exploring, reflecting and adventuring. Not only will you grow as a teacher, but you'll grow as a socially conscious citizen of the world. 

Learn more about the program here, and then fill out the TALMA Interest Form  to take the first step towards a life-changing summer!

Want to see what a summer with TALMA looks like? Check out this video from Summer 2015.

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.