Matthew Walker

Coordinator for International Relations at the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services

Alumnus of IGF Session 12, 2016-2017

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Upon completing IGF and making Aliyah, I moved to Tel Aviv and began working in a private intelligence and security firm as an analyst focusing on Sub-Saharan Africa alongside other IGF alumni. Meanwhile, I was also in discussions with my IGF mentor and the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services where I interned about returning to work at the Ministry as a regular, full-time member of staff. Israeli bureaucracy meant that this process took over a year from when my internship finished, but I was very happy to eventually return to work in the same Department under my IGF mentor in September 2019. I am still based in Tel Aviv, now living with my partner who is also an Olah Hadasha.

 

IGF has had a huge influence on my career - my internship allowed me to get my foot in the door of working in a fascinating and rewarding government Department and, through hard work and the help of my mentor that I met through IGF, I managed to get myself through that door and become a regular employee in that Department. Three years after joining IGF I know have real experience of working in a busy government administration that I can take with me moving forward into whatever I choose to do next. Even my year working as an intelligence analyst was essentially due to connections I made during my IGF internship and with IGF alumni, who were extremely supportive of my Aaliyah and efforts to find employment. Although I am now considering a career change into a different field, my office skillset and sense of myself as a professional that were developed under IGF's influence will stay with me throughout my career.

 

I had never been to Israel before going on IGF and I did not have a strong connection with my Jewish identity. It is extremely unlikely I would have come to Israel for longer than a brief holiday had it not been for IGF. I came at first really just for the internship opportunity and to experience another country for an extended period. In the time since, I have learnt a huge amount about Israeli history and Judaism, and I can now speak Hebrew (although total fluency remains a work in progress!).

IGF was for me a wonderful period of self-development and intense learning, nourishing my neglected sense of my Jewish identity while getting a first-rate education about Israeli history and society that gave me a head start in integrating into life here. Loving the program and loving being in Israel while I was on the program has completely changed the trajectory of my life. I'd like donors to know that the benefits and consequences of spending a year as an IGF fellow are huge and that helping this program to continue year after year is guaranteed to have a huge impact on the lives of many young Jews living in the diaspora. At least half of my IGF cohort remain in Israel three years after we met at the beginning of the program, with each of us coming from very different backgrounds and each with their own unique, still-developing connection to Israel.