By Nelson Graves
She wrote an article for News-Decoder, organized a writing class that is already bearing fruit, provided guidance as a student ambassador and took charge of a webinar.
Jaeli Rose of Student Year Abroad France put her mark on News-Decoder in January and is named “Decoder in the Spotlight” for the month.
You may have read her article, “Reflections on the Holocaust: Never Again — For Anyone”– a poignant meditation, stirred by her visit to the Anne Frank House, on Israeli-Palestinian relations seen through the eyes of a young Jew.
You may also have noticed an article by her friend Laila Mirza, “Reflections of a Muslim in America,” which explores what it means to be a Muslim in present-day America.
Laila’s article emerged after a workshop that Jaeli organized at SYA’s Rennes campus to encourage students there to craft articles for our website.
That Jaeli and Laila, a Jew and a Muslim, would become such close friends is testimony to their open-mindedness and to the mission of School Year Abroad, which brings together young people from different backgrounds and challenges them to extend their horizons.
Jaeli is one of 24 student ambassadors who help News-Decoder engage with young people in the 14 academic institutions in our program. Along with Peyton Spolansky of School Year Abroad Spain, Jaeli is helping to organize a News-Decoder webinar set for March 22 on separatist movements in Catalonia and Corsica, and what they mean for national and European unity.
We put a few questions to Jaeli, and here are her answers.
Q: Why did you decide to attend SYA France?
Jaeli: I actually decided to attend SYA pretty early on. At around the age of 12, I made the decision to stick with my home school (as opposed to change schools for high school) in order to have the opportunity to come to France. I even decided to stick with French throughout high school in order to be able to study abroad. I love to travel, so I naturally jumped at the chance to spend an entire year doing just that! I absolutely love living in France, and have grown so much as a student, as well as a person.
Q: What prompted you to get involved in N-D?
Jaeli: Right from the beginning of the year, my English teacher introduced News Decoder as a chance to explore journalism and grow as a writer. It interested me immediately, so when I was asked about being student ambassador, I knew right away that getting involved with such an incredible organization would be a great opportunity.
Q: What prompted you to write the article that you submitted?
Jaeli: I’ve grown up in a liberal, Jewish household, and as a family we are pretty involved in our synagogue. It goes without saying that a Jewish community, no matter how progressive, would blindly support Israel’s actions — but I don’t agree. I have long been interested in human rights activism, but never had strong opinions about Israel. However, in 2016 I got the chance to attend AIPAC (the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee), and heard most of the Republican candidates deliver speeches startlingly conservative and anti-Palestinian. Following the path of a handful of rabbis and one of my teachers, I walked out when Trump spoke — and that’s when I began to form coherent opinions about Israel and Palestine. More recently, Trump’s promise to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem (which I do not believe is the “true” capital of Israel) both shocked and angered me. That, coupled with a recent visit to the Anne Frank House, inspired me to write my article.
Q: What advice would you give students who might be interested in getting involved in N-D?
Jaeli: To anyone considering News Decoder, I would say, “Do it!” Not only did I further develop my ideas as I worked on this article, but I got a glance into the world of journalism and editing. It’s truly liberating, expelling my anger at certain policies onto the page, and it’s incredibly encouraging to know my ideas are being heard and (perhaps) appreciated — and yours will be too.
Q: Do you have an idea of what you would like to study in college and what careers you might eventually want to consider?
Jaeli: In college, I want to study either international relations or development, and minor in political science. Though I am not sure exactly which route I want to take to get there — whether it be political, NGO- or law-based — I eventually want to end up working to change international policies. The dream would be to work in the UN, either as a representative of the United States or of a non-profit organization. In the short term, I plan to join the Peace Corps straight out of college, preferably working in a French-speaking country.