Many seniors at Roanoke College are approaching their final semester, and ultimately asking the question, “What am I going to do next?” For some students, internships during their four years of college have paved the way for career opportunities and, in some cases, jobs upon graduation. Others may have an idea of the direction they’d like to take, but haven’t quite figured out how. For those of you in the latter group, allow to me to introduce you to the post-graduate journey of a recent Roanoke graduate, Shaina Lidd. I believe her experience will make you more optimistic about your future and what is possible after graduation.
Lidd graduated from Roanoke in 2015 with majors in International Relations and Religious Studies. Though she certainly made the best of her academic experience on campus, Lidd was unlike a lot of her friends because she wasn’t quite sure where she was going from here. Lidd knew she might want to pursue a career in academia, and spent a great deal of time at Roanoke researching and studying peace and conflict. She wondered how her research interests would translate into the real world, and the answer came through her participation in the Masa Israel Journey Program.
Shaina described the program as, “essentially a grant providing organization that allows young people of Jewish heritage from ages 18-30 opportunities to spend long-term, meaningful time in Israel. I had heard of it growing up in youth movements, but never intended to go. But then December of my senior year rolled around, and I realized that my plan of going straight to graduate school wasn’t best for me. I decided to take some time off from school, and do a ‘year of service’ in some way. I considered a few different programs, but I was really really appealed to living abroad, and Masa was an easy was to go.” However, the key reason for choosing to participate in the program was that she wanted a sense of community. The program allowed her to pursue her desires of academia by teaching English in Rahat, Israel. Lidd described her aspiration for connecting with another community by noting, “I did not know much about Bedouin struggles or community prior to MITF, and welcomed a chance to learn about a disadvantaged group in Israel that I did not know much about.” As with any experience abroad, Lidd was bound to face some challenges she needed to overcome.
When I asked Lidd what her most significant challenge was on her journey, her response was simple: living abroad. It sounds vague, but there are deep cultural components that pose many challenges to anyone living abroad. Lidd said, “the hardest part for me was the language. When I started working in the school, I knew absolutely no arabic, and many of the students and teachers knew very little English.” As Lidd noted, if you can overcome the language barrier, “you learn so much about communication. Body language can tell you so much about what someone is saying, and after some trail and error, you can really make it work.” Lidd’s advice to international relations majors would be to fight through that language barrier, because what is a challenge at first can be a truly educational and rewarding experience.
I want to leave pass long some of her wise words for rising and current seniors. Lidd recommends to explore the options available to you, and that you do not have to commit to a career path if your heart isn’t in it. Lidd added, “Participating in a long-term service project was an extremely life changing experience for me, and I encourage any student to consider it.”
From a personal standpoint, I found Lidd’s experience truly captivating, inspiring, and fulfilling. Although, my takeaway from her journey is that regardless of whether you have it all figured out, Lidd’s experience is a prime example of how broadening your horizons and being open to opportunities can still create a path for your future. Programs similar to the Masa Israel Journey Program flood the liberal arts, and may be an experience that helps you find your way. So, for any soon-to-be Roanoke graduate who is uncertain about what lies ahead, I hope Lidd’s experience shows that even when it may seem like all the doors are closed, perhaps the best one is yet to be opened.
The Masa Isreal Teaching Fellowship Promotion Video