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My Work with Migrant Communities in Israel and the United States

By Kayci Merritté, Yahel Social Change Program alumna


If I had to choose two words to describe my eight-and-a-half months in Ramat Eliyahu, they would be ‘challenging’ and ‘rewarding’:

I moved somewhere completely new.

I learned a language starting from the very basics.

I lived and worked with people who were once near strangers.

I determined the best ways to interact with a new community.

I became immersed in the reality of Israel.

I heard political opinions that spanned a line significantly longer than I thought possible.

“Every day in Israel I learned something new about what it means for an individual or a group to enter into a new country and culture.”

With every challenge, I learned something, and in most cases, many things. I gained so much from my encounters in Ramat Eliyahu and in Israel, and I know that if I had moved through my time there smoothly and easily, I would have left with considerably less knowledge and experience. My time in Israel was challenging, and because of that, I gained so much.

After my Masa Israel experience, I returned to my hometown of St. Louis to serve as an AmeriCorps member assisting in refugee resettlement. Once-a-week I pick up new arrivals from all of the world – Congo, Iraq, Cuba, the list goes on – from the airport and bring them to their new homes. Throughout the rest of my week, I help these new residents of my city access the medical care that they need.

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Me and my friend Larry with our freshly-baked challah

I’m not sure I would have applied for this position if it were not for my experiences in Ramat Eliyahu. Every day in Israel I learned something new about what it means for an individual or a group to enter into a new country and culture. Now, these ideas and experiences regularly support me in my work.

During her time on the Yahel Social Change Program, Kayci worked at Tebeka: Justice and Equality for Ethiopian Israelis, a legal aid organization that serves the Ethiopian-Israeli community. She also volunteered in local schools and in an arts workshop.

Are you inspired by Kayci’s story? Learn more about the Yahel Social Change Program.

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