The author discusses Israeli technology with visitors to the Street Labs tent.
Last month my friends from Israel Sci-Tech high school and I went to Union Square to participate in the most exciting activity planned for us during our visit to New York City: Street Labs. This exhibition included a huge tent where we presented several start-up projects made by Israeli teens from the Sci-Tech schools network. We also presented leading Israeli high-tech companies’ inventions (such as Elbit and Given Imaging) to demonstrate that science and technology can be fun and useful to all.
Exactly when I thought I was starting to get to know New York City I realized I knew nothing about it. The subway, the skyscrapers, the people … oh, the people! Ladies and gentleman, I can positively declare that New Yorkers are absolutely spectacular! New York includes seven letters and so does the word awesome — coincidence? I think not.
In our tent we had a press conference. We showed the people walking by our amazing start-up projects and even taught them some physics through fun, short activities.
In addition, we presented our Eye2Israel project and received a lot of great feedback from the public. The Eye2Israel project, which has been my second home for the past three years, is a place for Israeli teens to speak up and connect with the world. Our goal in one sentence? To show you how awesome, cool, amazing and legen*wait-for-it*dary Israel is! We also have a website with articles on everything related to Israel. Check it out.
I came to New York to represent the Eye2Israel project. I was the guy at the front desk who welcomed all the people into the tent. I gave them information about the Street Labs tent and an interactive quiz about Israel. I have to admit that my first thought was, “Oh, now everyone will enter the tent and will just walk past me and go right to the start-up projects.” I never thought people would care so much about Israel and ask so many questions. Some of them were so excited about what I did that they wanted to take a photo with me. (With me? Can you imagine? Watch out BBC and CNN!)
We connected with teens from all over the city. We went to many high schools and presented Israel and our spectacular Sci-Tech Street Labs projects such as an Android application that scans food ingredients to identify allergens. We also showed a device that prevents teenage drunk driving by informing parents that alcohol was consumed by the driver before starting the ignition. We also taught basic principles of physics, such as the center of gravity, to the students through hands-on experiments.
I was extremely surprised when I saw how the students reacted to our activities. They were so interested and thrilled to find out more about Israel. They made me proud to be an Israeli and I’m so grateful for that.
If I had to summarize my experience in one sentence it would be the famous John F. Kennedy quote: “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” In my opinion, every citizen has to give and sacrifice for his or her country. Talking and lecturing about Israel made me feel like a real ambassador; I’m so proud to represent Israel.
It was certainly a pleasure to get to know New York and teach New Yorkers a thing or two about Israel. I have a feeling that we truly made a difference (and no, my positive feelings are not inspired by the delicious bean burrito I ate afterwards which was my first one ever, by the way).
I have to mention one very nice couple that stopped me in the elevator at our hotel that evening. They turned out to be on a business trip from Rhode Island. They sat me down in the lobby for an hour and asked me tons of questions about being a teenager in Israel and if I was scared of the Iranian threat. They loved Israel and were so excited to finally meet someone who could give them a whole new perspective on life in the country.
Why am I telling you this? Because this is exactly why I came to the great city of New York. It was so fascinating to speak to people and I felt so good with myself when I saw that they understood what Israel was really like. Now I can return home and say that my trip was worth it.
I’m definitely going to tell my Israeli friends about the awesome people I met in New York. They motivated me to keep talking, explaining and showing the world how amazing Israel is!