This past month, I enjoyed being out of my comfort zone and learning things that I would not have been learning otherwise. For the first two weeks of the internship, I was given the task of learning about the new 3D printer that we have acquired a week before my arrival, and developing a robust process. Additionally, I was working with Andrew on designing and constructing an encasing for the printer to contain and ventilate plastic fumes. I was excited for both of these projects because they are in realms that I have not been in before. I learned how to operate a 3D printer, and also parts of the assembly through troubleshooting. I learned the process of designing and constructing a physical box, and that it is more difficult than one would think. As a Chemical Engineer, I was more accustomed to simulations and modeling, but for the first time I was in a shop getting dirty. While I am not particularly attracted to that aspect, I enjoyed the experience nonetheless.
Unfortunately, as the internship carried on, I began to feel that I was not really contributing to the company. While I learned a lot about the 3D printer, it was still a monster that I was not able to tame. Even though I printed a few objects in the beginning, suddenly one thing after another began to go wrong with the printer. I spent hours and days trying to figure out various solutions to make our prints better, but to no avail. That is my biggest frustration because I felt that I have not make concrete accomplishments. However, I am happy I was able to develop operational procedures and to train Ilay in what I have learned so he can continue on with the project.
The biggest lesson I have learned this summer, however, is the cultural aspect that I have been curious about. Before this internship, or even this week, I have never really paid attention to news in the Middle East. While in the United States, the Middle East was simply too complicated for me to understand. When conflicts arise, events often escalate so quickly that I would feel bombarded with too many confusing articles. After this week, I learned that my previous confusion was partially the results of the vastly opposing viewpoints. As a neutral bystander in the middle of the increasing tension, I began to pay more attention to try to understand what is happening. Often dissatisfied by one news source, I would turn to another but only to also find myself questioning what I have read. I was frustrated by the propaganda as well as the lack of empathy that Israel faces. Israelis are one of the most genuine people I have met, and I have appreciated the community. Here in Israel, I have been helped by more strangers than I can keep count. Even though the underlying conflict in the Middle East is still more complex than I can understand in one summer, I think I was able to gain a good sense of it and its political implications.
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