Jessica's passion for education helps others in need
We re-connected with Jessica Bricker (OKC 2013) who has been very busy helping to make the world a better place since graduating from Carmel. Now living in Israel, Jessica’s journey so far is inspirational, and she has wise advice to share with our current Carmel students.
Where did you study and work in the years after Carmel School and before making aliyah?
I studied for a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, completing two years of the degree in Perth at UWA before moving to Melbourne and continuing the degree at Monash University. I was very involved in Habo and took on the roles of Metaemet (Community Relations), Mazkira (Chairperson) and Federal Head of Education. I worked at Elevate Education in Perth and Melbourne, presenting study skills seminars to high school students, as well as Elephant Ed in Melbourne presenting sex-ed seminars to high school students. In addition, I worked for Stand Up in Melbourne as an Educator for their social justice-centered Bnei Mitzvah program.
What have you enjoyed most about making aliyah?
I have most enjoyed learning Hebrew, being involved with various NGOs and national movements, and deepening my understanding of Israeli society. I've also almost finished my master’s degree in Global Migration and Policy at Tel Aviv University, which has been a great learning experience.
What did you work on during your time with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees?
I worked with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees as the Coordinator of the UNHCR side of the Canadian sponsorship program. There is a program in Canada that enables refugees from other countries to move to Canada and be financially supported by Canadian citizens (sponsors) in their first year there. Since Israel, unfortunately, does not grant refugee status to many asylum seekers who live in Israel, the UNHCR can grant these asylum seekers refugee status to enable them to move to Canada through this program. I coordinated the refugee status determination interviews, conducted pre-registration calls, and sent out refugee letters to applicants at the end of their process.
You are now the Program Manager for The Schoolhouse, a school for adult refugees in Tel Aviv. What are you working on here?
The Schoolhouse was an independent NGO previously but this year we have merged with the African Refugee Development Centre which is very exciting. The Schoolhouse is mainly centered on basic education courses, so we run English, Hebrew, and Computer Studies courses. I manage all of our teachers, students, and our educational courses, and I'm hoping to start working on building programs specifically for 18-25-year-olds in the community very soon.
Of your many achievements, what are you most proud of so far?
I am most proud of being able to learn Hebrew and take on a managerial position in an organisation within 3 years of living here, on top of navigating a crazy pandemic. I was a teacher at The Schoolhouse since late 2019, so I feel very honoured to take on the management role and strengthen the position of The Schoolhouse in the asylum seeker community.
What are your plans for the future?
My plans for the future are to continue to work within this very special and underserved community in Israel, and to continue to combine my passion for Education with my managerial skills.
What advice do you have for our current Carmel School students, who are preparing for their future after graduation?
My advice is to think less and do more. We can get very distracted thinking about all the possible things we could do or directions we could take in life, but the thing that's going to help you figure it out is doing something about it. Any opportunity that comes your way to volunteer or intern or work in the fields that you are interested in is a chance to learn more about the world and your place in it.
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