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Trade mission to Israel



I recently flew back from a trade mission to Israel that took place during the week of
November 6.


The trade mission was organized by the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) and was to be led by Governor Chafee; however, because pension reform in Rhode Island was being decided at that time, the governor was needed here. Other colleges represented in Israel were Bryant, Brown and URI.

R/V Endeavor (Photo: http://techserv.gso.uri.edu/)
URI’s R/V Endeavor (Bob Ballard’s research ship) was docked in Israel near Haifa University. Members of the trade mission were offered a tour of the ship.

I did not participate in many of the standard activities organized by the EDC because I was busy at colleges and universities. For example, I did not tour the R/V Endeavor nor did I visit the exhibition of electric cars.

My traveling companions, however, did gain hands-on experience driving the cars, which are powered by large, heavy batteries. The batteries can be replaced in a matter of minutes at a battery exchange station (similar in appearance to a gas station).



Electric car in battery exchange station. (Photo: http://www.fourgreensteps.com/infozone/energy/better-place-israel-adopting-electric-car-charging-networks)
Battery exchange stations like these are being set up throughout Israel, and about 1,000 of these cars, built by Renault, are already on the road. Israel is committed to going green rather than being dependent on oil.

Now that I have told you what I did not do on this trip, you might be interested in what I did do.

My visits to a number of colleges and universities began at 7:30 a.m. each day. By that time, I had already responded to email from some of you and had read (online) about the particular college or university I was to visit that day.

During my visits, I talked with faculty and administrators about the ways in which RIC and their own institution might collaborate for the benefit of both. I returned to the hotel at around 6 p.m. every evening, had dinner with my colleagues and perused email until around 11 p.m.

Since returning home, I have heard from three of the institutions I visited: Oranim College in Tivon, a teacher training college; the University of Haifa, a major research university with an established relationship with URI; and Beit Berl College, which focuses on education, art, Arab teacher training and government and social policy.

I would like to share with you the email I received from a professor at Oranim College, to give you a sense of the exciting possibilities for us.

Dear President Carriuolo,

We met shortly about 10 days ago at Oranim College just a day before my travel to a meeting of a consortium of Oranim and four American academic institutions at Wheelock College in Boston. I have just returned from this trip, which was exciting with enormous potential for future cooperation, and I use this occasion to write you a short follow-up mail.

Among other topics and opportunities we discussed at our Boston meetings, we developed the following options:

• Online courses in various topics in early childhood education, co-taught by Israeli and American teachers.
• Joint student seminars in early childhood education, based on video documentation of field work in Israel and the U.S.
• A six-week summer semester in Boston, together with American students and students from Singapore and Qatar.
• A joint seminar at Colorado State University on online teaching-learning and on building global dialogues.
• A staff and student exchange.
• Joint research.

I believe my colleagues shared with you other options as well. Joint work, as I mentioned above, can be expanded, of course, to other ages and other disciplines and phases of our teachers training programs. If you see it worth considering, we at Oranim may want to discuss options like these with RIC.

It was a pleasure to meet you. I hope you had a satisfying trip and a safe journey home.

Sincerely,
Moshe Shner

Moshe Shner (Ph.D.)
Jewish Philosophy Department
Oranim College,
Tivon 36006, Israel
mshner@oranim.ac.il



(Photo: http://www.jesuschangesall.com/israel.html)

In addition to visiting colleges and universities, I visited the office of AMIDEAST, which services Palestinian Arab students and which offered to include our admission materials in their college fairs.

I also visited the offices of Education USA – Israel Center in Tel Aviv and spoke with two Israeli students who were interested in graduate school at RIC. One had finished an undergraduate degree in education and the other was completing a degree in psychology, with a minor in women’s studies. Undergraduate education in Israel is very affordable; tuition is 3,000 American dollars per year. My contact at the office of Education USA offered to include RIC in a virtual college fair she is planning. The fair is free to participants.

Speaking of funding, some people have asked how the trip was funded. Part of my costs were absorbed by a grant to the EDC, and other costs were borne by our hosts, who often provided, for example, meals. The U.S. Embassy provided me with a car and a commerce officer, Alan Wielunski.

You might be surprised that a commerce specialist was assigned to me. The embassy encourages commerce of all types with Israel. Although most of the people on the trip were business owners seeking contracts with Israeli businesses, colleges and universities can also move dollars to the U.S. in the form of student tuition, grants or other funded projects.

Because I was concerned about costs, Kathy Tufts, director of Educational Trade Programs for the EDC, graciously offered to share her hotel room with me at no cost. In all, the only cost to me for this trip was my group-rate, coach-fare ticket, which I was able to pay through my discretionary fund. I support that fund, in part, through my payroll deduction plan.

Having a roommate was fun, reminiscent of my own college days. Kathy and I sometimes stayed up very late talking (and then were very bleary-eyed at 6 a.m. the next morning). Sound familiar? She is kind, generous, humor-filled and knowledgeable about the EDC. I was very fortunate that she offered to share her room with me. I saved a great deal of money and had the pleasure of her company.

What else did I do for fun? On the last day before heading home, I took, at my own expense, a tour of Israel’s historic sites. I dipped a toe in the River Jordan, and a fellow traveler snapped a photo.


(Photo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Jordan_River_Marker.jpg)


President Nancy Carriuolo dips a toe in the River Jordan. (Photo: Todd Blair)


“Pilgrims” being baptized in the River Jordan. (Photo: Todd Blair)

I know that both the academic institutions I visited as well as my traveling companions gained a better understanding of RIC. I am hopeful that some of the Israeli professors who expressed interest in collaboration may connect fruitfully with our own fine faculty.

The trip may even result in an Israeli graduate student or two joining us at RIC, and/or a few RIC students taking one of the programs taught in English offered at the University of Haifa. The trip unearthed numerous possibilities. Now we need to consider what we wish to pursue.