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Alix Billinkoff

 
ALIX BILLINKOFF: MY EXPERIENCE ATTENDING THE ARNI THORSTEINSON EXCHANGE PROGRAM AT BEN GURION UNIVERSITY IN BE'ERSHEVA

posted May 30, 2013

[Editor's note At a Shabbat dinner  on May 10 put on by the Canadian Friends of  Ben Gurion University when Israeli students were in Winnipeg as part of the Arni C. Thorsteinson Israel Exchange Program with the Asper School of Business, Alix Billinkoff  delivered remarks. Billinkoff participated in the Arni C. Thorsteinson Israel Exchange Program in 2008. Then, after graduating from the Asper School of Business in 2010 she moved to Israel where she lived in Tel Aviv for two years and worked in marketing for Israeli start-up organizations. She is currently pursuing an M.B.A. at the Asper School of Business and is looking forward to graduating this summer. What follows are her remarks which were delivered just before the students were to go to Toronto and then Israel. In our next issue we will have a fuller report about the Shabbat dinner and Canadian Friends of Ben-Gurion University's exchange program ]

I am very honored to be here tonight to tell you a little bit about my experience attending the Arni Thorsteinson Exchange Program. I first heard about this opportunity as a first year University student - when my mother saw an article about the trip in her University of Manitoba alumni magazine.

I had been to Israel twice before and knew I would jump at any opportunity to go back.   So the Arni Thorsteinson Exchange Program was the perfect choice   - an opportunity to take advantage of learning at BGU with world class professors in the land of Israel. 

The program is administered differently now than when I went.   I participated in the  1st year of the program.   I travelled with 15 other Asper students and our fearless leader, Sergio Carvalho. to Be’er Sheva.  We studied International Marketing at Ben Gurion University for one month. We lived in dorms with BGU students, we attended classes at the university, wrote exams, etc. It was basically like a normal university course, but instead of studying in the library, we would study by the pool.

We also met with Israeli business owners and learnt about their business practices, in addition to doing some sight-seeing around the country.   We had a fabulous time and learned so much about opening ourselves up to new experiences and meeting and working with people from different cultures.

Personally, I gained so much from this experience and it certainly has benefited me when I made the plunge to move to Israel two years later. 


Over the years, I have kept in touch with many of the Alumni that I travelled to Israel with and most recently had the opportunity to travel again with Sergio, this time to his home country of Brazil, as part of my M.B.A program this year.

I think programs like these are so important for students’ academic and personal growth and that international exposure is a wonderful asset for anyone to have.  There is so much that can be learned from Israel.  As a matter of fact, the mention of Israel or Israeli businesses came up multiple times when I was in Brazil last month, proving what an important player Israel is in the Global scene.

The passion that people have there for business and for life is truly inspiring and I think that all of you who are traveling to Israel will love the spirit and energy of the country. So as you embark on this wonderful journey, if I could give you some advice, it would be to keep an open mind. Step outside your comfort zone, take a chance and try new things.  This really is the opportunity of a lifetime, and you’ll be glad you did when you look back on your time in Israel 5 years later like I am today.

 Thank you very much and have a wonderful, fun and safe trip [to Israel].

 
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