Meet Devon Conway, an Aliyah Advisor at Nefesh B'Nefesh:
“I was born and raised in California, made Aliyah a year and a half ago, and now live in Tel Aviv. I’m 26 this month so I’m a Scorpio and I studied Psychology at UC Davis. I wasn’t planning on making Aliyah! I was applying for jobs in California but wasn’t finding anything, so my friend suggested I come on a Masa program with them. I thought I would go for a year and then come back and go to school to get another degree, but I found myself here and never really left. Something in my brain just clicked and said ‘I wanna be here, I wanna be in Israel.
I started working for Nefesh B’Nefesh a few months ago after working for Masa. I work in the pre-Aliyah department as an Aliyah Advisor. I love how everything I’m doing now is what helped me through my Aliyah as well. One of the biggest challenges is being so far from family. Especially being from California with a 10-hour time difference has been hard and particularly during Covid. Hebrew was, is, and will be a challenge. I studied Hebrew for two years in university but came here and realized how much I didn’t know. I couldn’t even tell the difference when people were speaking Arabic or Hebrew. That being said, over the past 3 years and some ulpan, it has definitely improved but still not perfect. But the best thing about my Aliyah is that feeling of joy and feeling of ‘I’m where I’m supposed to be’ that I’ve never really felt before. Just walking down the street feeling like I’m home.
I have 3 pieces of advice for new Olim:
1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help because Israelis want to help you and you’re gonna need help.
2. Let go of the ideas and notions of what you thought your life would be. If you are constantly comparing your life before to what your life is like now, you’ll never find happiness.
3. Constantly try to learn Hebrew. It’s the only way to be successful and feel a part of the Israeli culture and Midinat Yisrael – I remember being on the bus and two men were talking behind me. I realized it was the first time I could understand a conversation that did not directly involve me. That was the first time I really felt part of this.
Fun Fact: I am a vegan and being vegan in Tel Aviv is awesome because there so many options!"