Waking up to greet our last morning in Tel Aviv, we all packed our bags, shuffled to breakfast, and then loaded the bus to head up North. After an hour bus ride, we arrive at Yokneam, an area outside Haifa where we visit Given Imaging to speak with Rafi Nave, the senior vice president.
Here, we learn about the pillcam—a revolutionary substitute for the colonoscopy and other internal probing devices. The pillcam is swallowed—and takes pictures at a rate of up to 35 frames per second from within the body. After a patient swallows the pill-sized camera, the physician can view the trip of the camera from start to finish to check for cancer and other infections. This company is extraordinary because it has revolutionized the GI medical field.
Over 500,000 deaths a year are recorded annually from colon cancer, and this pillcam can detect cancerous nodes in early stages to prevent them on a wide scale rate. It also encourages more people who would normally be turned off by a tube going in his or her body to get inspected. The pillcam is currently manufactured in Israel, L.A., and Vietnam—but it is distributed in many more countries. Given Imaging is worth nearly 200 million dollars today, and looks to continue expanding.
From here, we traveled to a different, more rural part of Yokneam to meet some people from Wash U’s Yokneam Partnership. We were lead to a rural farm. Not knowing exactly where we were going but trusting our Israeli Yokneam Partners—we students trekked through an area of lush verdure, garden, and avocado and orange trees.
Through the mystery, we finally arrived at a home on the farm. The home of a man named Pinchas. Sitting down in his backyard surrounded by tall flowers and greenery, he began to tell us his story. Pinchas was in the army when he had to eject from his plane midflight. Landing in Syria he was taken captive for three years. In captivity, he was tortured. Both of his legs were broken along with his elbow and all of his ribs. He was left underground in a prison cell alone.
From behind a ruffled mustache, brimmed farmers hat, and jovial smile—he explained that today at age 70, he lives in this home with his wife. He extracts honey from beehives on his farm and spends time with his children and wife. He tells us he is a happy man full of appreciation for life, love, and his country. He teaches us to appreciate every breath, every breeze, and every delicious bite of food. He teaches us that freedom is internal and cannot be stripped from you if you won’t let it. If you can maintain your core values within your mind, you’ll always be free. In disjointed English he inspires our class and all of us left with a renewed understanding for happiness.
Afterward, we traveled still a bit more north toward Haifa for a meeting at Intel. First, we learn about what Intel does and how they create hardware memory chips that are crucial for computers, games, and phones. We learn about the intricate process that goes into creating just one chip—and the expenses, too.
We learn that in the construction room where the chips are made—workers dress up in what looks like full astronaut gear so as to maintain a perfectly clean environment so that not even a spec of dust tarnishes the piece of hardware. Afterward, we get a walking tour of the huge, beautiful facility that overlooks the Mediterranean Sea. We see some of the places were the chips are made and organized. Although much of the intricacies of engineering the chips went over our heads, one thing we understood was that Intel is truly an amazing company.
Writing this post I’m seated on our bus. We are traveling to Jerusalem from our day in Haifa. Tonight we will get dinner and adjust to yet another new city. Another day, another city, another experience. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.
Adam – College of Arts & Sciences – Class of 2014, Boston