Carmel resident has educational experience to remember


Indiana University junior David Wolfe Bender didn’t want to forget anything about his memorable experience visiting Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

So, the Carmel resident and Park Tudor School graduate wrote about each day in his blog. Bender visited Israel for seven days and spent three days in the United Arab Emirates as part of the Geller International Fellowship.

The students chosen went through a highly competitive and selective application process to join the inaugural cohort of Israel on Campus Coalition, a half-year elite master class that culminates in this first-of-its-kind trip.

“It’s a coalition that deals with Israel issues and antisemitism on college campuses,” Bender said. “They organized the trip, and it was sponsored by the Geller family.”

Bender said Martin Geller is a minority owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and a philanthropist.

There were 40 students, including four from Indiana University. Also attending from IU was Carmel resident Kendrick Mernitz.

“There were Jewish and non-Jewish (participants),” Bender said. “There were students from public schools, private schools, Ivy League and HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). It was a pretty diverse group.”

Bender, who is Jewish, said Israel holds a big place in his heart. This was his second trip to Israel, with his first trip occurring in 2021.

Bender put a blog on his website about his takeaways from the trip.

“We saw how the economic ties between Israel and the United Emirates are really blossoming,” Bender said. “It was cool to see that in person and how businesses are working together, and countries are working together in areas like financial technology and food technology. Israel is a country of start-up companies. The United Arab Emirates is a country of ex-patriots. We’ve been told 12 percent of the UAE is actually Emirati, the other 88 percent are ex-patriots from the United States, Europe, areas of Asia and now from Israel. We’re learning how their economy fits into this partnership with Israel, the United States and all these countries was really transformative.”

There were panel discussions and presentations from notable members of Israel and United Arab Emirates governments.

“We went to the New York University campus in Abu Dhabi (in UAE) and spoke with faculty members and students about their experience in the UAE,” Bender said. “One of my favorite parts of the trip was hearing a presentation from the head of government partnerships at an investment firm in Tel Aviv. We met the first ever Israeli ambassador to the United Arab Emirates. The Israel On Campus Coalition did a great job of sightseeing with educational programming.”

Bender, who is studying journalism, economics and political science, serves as director of city relations for IU’s student government. He previously worked as managing editor and reporter for the Indiana Daily Student, IU’s student newspaper.

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