Meet TAU International's
World-traveller navigates to a Masters in Migration Studies at TAU
An active member of the Jewish community since childhood, Shauna Ruda has always felt a strong connection to international Jewish life. As a new high school graduate, she deferred her acceptance to American University in Washington DC to serve as the president of BBYO, the largest Jewish international youth organization. The position allowed her to visit Jewish communities around the globe.
"I saw the fluidity of the Jewish community and how connected we are, even though we are constantly moving — maybe because we are constantly moving," says the Denver, Colorado native. "It was powerful that I could be received by international communities, and it didn't matter where I was from."
After completing a BA in Anthropology, she was eager to find more ways to interact with the global Jewish world, so she looked for an opportunity with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), the largest Jewish humanitarian aid organization. Serving in their JDC Entwine Global Jewish Service Corps gave her a chance to fulfil this dream and honor her family's history at the same time. Shauna's grandparents, who met and married in the Warsaw Ghetto during the holocaust, found one another after the war when her grandmother was working with the organization to locate and reunite families.
Through her position in Turkey, she brought leadership training and Jewish education to youth in the Jewish community and assisted in the community's international development projects. Then, following another two years at the organization's main office in New York City developing educational programs about global Jewish issues, Shauna felt it was time to seek a graduate degree, and made TAU her first choice.
"I had always wanted to live in Israel, and I was fascinated with the idea of coming to school here to see JDC's work with the country's most vulnerable populations," she said. TAU's MA in Migration Studies opened its doors at just the right moment, and Shauna jumped at the chance to be a member of the first class. The unparalleled field experience that the program offers was one of the program's many inducements.
Despite Israel's small size, she believes that the country's response to the hot-topic issues of immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers could be influential on the world stage. "We can sit in a classroom talking about policies for immigration and identity, but here it's part of daily life. Everything I read about applies to the people around me," she said. "The exciting thing is that I don't need to be taken on field trips — though there are those opportunities. I walk down the street and I hear different languages around me. I go to southern Tel Aviv and I am immersed in the issues of refugees and asylum seekers."
Shauna hopes to take her experiences in the Migration Studies program and apply them directly in the field in a career with JDC, working with migrant populations. She also plans to continue exploring her passion for education. "Our generation has access to so much information, and we want to learn. I hope this experience will give me the tools to begin conversations about some of the major issues that are impacting our world in a meaningful way."
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