WISE SF Bay Area Chapter
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Travel Reflections: A Sports Leadership Trip To Israel

Guest post by Ariel Feigenbaum, Principal, Strategic Partnerships at Sutter Health & WISE Board Member

I’m going to be honest, I was pretty anxious as I slowly boarded a flight to Israel alongside 49 other sports professional who had been hand selected as “change makers” in our field. Not one for group trips, the idea of piling into a bus for eight days with my professional peers for a leadership trip seemed a bit daunting. The list was a who’s who of international athletes, agents, marketing execs, league/team execs, and a handful of non-profit professionals; all high-achievers in their respective field.  Despite our different backgrounds, we all had one thing in common at this point- We had decided to carve out 10 days from our busy lives, take a leap of faith, and immerse ourselves into the REALITY Sports program through the Schusterman Foundation.

The REALITY mission “offers a unique opportunity to learn the playbook of a country that managed to thrive against the odds and have a global impact beyond its small size,” according to the Schusterman Foundation.  “The program is one of the only integrated Israel experiences of its kind that is designated to tell the modern story of Israel through the first-hand study of its history, diversity, and sports achievement.” Throughout the week we were challenged to explore the complexities of Israel and the people who inhabit it.  REALITY “is an initiative that explores Israel as a prism of complexity and inspiration for emerging global leaders who speak the languages of the future. Sports play a unique role in our world as a tool of community-building and collaboration.”

While it is challenging to simplify the learnings of such a meaningful experience, I did walk away with important lessons that I am eager to share with the WISE community:

  1.       It is important to express your gratitude. To yourself, to others, to strangers.  We are often so bogged down by the stress in our lives, that we forget to actively remind ourselves of our blessings, no matter how large or small they might be.
  2.    Make decisions with both your head and your heart. While we are professionals who need to lead with our heads; we (WISE members) are also women.  It might not be totally scientific, but women have strong instincts that should not be silenced. It’s worth taking the time to slow down and consult both before making a big decision.
  3.       Don’t be afraid to ask another question.  Israel, like most things in this world, are complex.  The easy route is to accept the way something is presented to you and keep moving forward.  I challenge you to take the time and stop to examine the situation from another perspective.  Ask clarifying questions, and get to the heart of the situation before passing judgement. I have been frequently amazed by my shift in perception once I take the time to dig a bit deeper.

Interested in learning more about the REALITY programs? Feel free to shoot me a note to learn more about my experience.  You can also learn more about the application process here: https://www.schusterman.org/realityexperience/reality-sports

Until next time,


Meeting Ethiopian-Israeli students at the ENP SPACE Scholastic Assistance Program in Bat Yam
Meeting Ethiopian-Israeli students at the ENP SPACE Scholastic Assistance Program in Bat Yam

Learning the story of “Benei Sakhnin”, the first Arab soccer team to win the Israeli National Cup in 2004

Morning gratitude session in Tel Aviv

Teambuilding exercise at Mikhmoret Beach