Gann alumnus Ben Fine ’12 is currently on a gap year in Israel. He plans to attend Colby College at the conclusion of his year, where he will also be a member of the swim team. In this Q & A, learn about Fine’s gap year experience and why he decided to take the year in the first place.
Q: When did you arrive in Israel and where are you currently living?
A: I arrived in Israel in January 2013. I am living in Herzliya, which is a northern suburb of Tel Aviv. I will be there until mid-May 2013.
Q: How come you chose to do a gap year after Gann?
A: I had a few reasons for wanting to do a gap year. My older brother had done a gap year and he had many great experiences and started college fresh, ready and more settled and mature than many of his classmates. Second, I think that a gap year is a once in a lifetime opportunity for growth and adventure. Third, I felt that I would be better as a competitive swimmer in college after an additional year of training, swimming and physical maturation.
Q: Can you explain your internship?
A: I am currently interning at the International Institute for Counter- Terrorism. The institute is the “leading academic institute for counter-terrorism in the world, facilitating international cooperation in the global struggle against terrorism,” and is part of the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC), a major Israeli university. I am primarily responsible for researching, summarizing and gathering information about terrorist incidents around the world and preparing such information for inclusion into the institute’s database. This internship is a natural follow up to work I did earlier in my gap year at The Washington Institute, a United States think tank specializing in the Middle East. I spent several months in Washington, D.C. assisting scholars in their research in the following areas: Arabic and Islamic politics section, Arab-Israeli relations, military and security studies and terrorism.
Q: How do you balance your internship and swimming competitively with Bnei Herzliya Swim Club?
A: Fortunately the swim team and the university (IDC) are located in the same neighborhood. I swim early in the mornings and late every afternoon. Unlike my team in the US, we don’t have any practices on Shabbat. It was quite an adjustment joining an Israeli swim team but I have found the kids on the team to be extremely warm and welcoming. Although the training is very different from what I’m used to, and the atmosphere more relaxed and a little chaotic, I find the attitude of the swimmers and the coaches to be serious and the swimming high quality.
Q: What has been one of the more meaningful moments so far?
A: Competing in the Israeli National Championships [were] great travel experiences (Africa, Europe, etc.). Navigating new experiences (people, places, jobs). I know I’ve learned so much and I am better prepared for the next stage of my life. This year will be something I will always treasure.
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