Meet Sam Shatzkin

Two weeks before the BIG IDEA Israel Gap Year’s first semester ever, we asked Sam Shatzkin, one of the program participants, a few questions about his expectations and goals. Sam has been part of the BIG IDEA family for a while now, so by reading his answers, we know it’s going to be an amazing time!

Sam is an 18 years old participant of the BIG IDEA Gap Year program in Israel. He’s originally from New York, and he is the president of BBYO youth movement chapter in Manhattan.

Sam, Tell us about your background with technology.

Outside of my 4 years at BIG IDEA camp, it has been a very long time since I’ve had a formal education in anything technology related. I have always been interested in that sort of thing though, so over the duration of high school, I’ve taught myself the basics of multiple programming languages for various reasons. I taught myself Java when I thought I might want to join the robotics team and R (A statistical analysis language) so that I could participate in a neuroscience research project at Johns Hopkins University in addition to a few other languages I learned in my free time.

Gap Year in Israel

Why did you choose to take a gap year in Israel?

I have felt a strong connection to Israel since I first visited with my family about 7 years ago. Since then, we have visited every summer. We have no family in the country but because of BIG IDEA and my frequent visits, we have developed many very strong friendships in the county. This year I even participated in March of the Living with BBYO, which only strengthened my connection with Israel. I think a gap year will do a lot of good for me before I go to college and I can’t imagine doing it anywhere but Israel.

What are your goals for the upcoming 9 months?

My goals are partially academic, to learn more about app design, programming, and how to speak Hebrew. However, I also have “extracurricular goals” like personal growth and hopefully a clarified understanding of a career path that I would like to pursue.

Tell us about the way you’ve made with BIG IDEA. What made you choose to continue your way with BIG IDEA?

I really enjoyed the 4 four summers I spent at BIG IDEA and made a lot of great, lasting friendships there. When I began searching for gap year programs, BIG IDEA’s stood out to me because most programs I came across would’ve had me focus on community service or Jewish studies for the majority of the program and BIG IDEA would allow me to focus on a subject much more closely aligned with my personal interests and career goals.

Thank you Sam! We’re sure that this is about to be one of the best decisions in your life.

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