You already know about our mission. Now it’s time to meet the men and women behind the curtain. This is the second post in a series of interviews of FoEME staff and affiliates. We hope you enjoy getting to know us better!
From music to environment and peace building, Mira Edelstein has made her way to FoEME, where she is in charge of international affairs in Tel Aviv office. Mira enjoys her job a lot, as she tells us…
Mira, can you tell us a few words about you and your background, and what lead you to work with FoEME?
I was born and raised in America, in New York. My professional background is not in environment; rather in music. I began studying the flute at 8 and hold a BA in music. However, I have also always loved hiking and exploring nature. I moved to Israel after college, at the age of 21. With a group of 40 people, we moved to a kibbutz in the Negev, wanting to “make the desert bloom” (something that I later learned, as an environmentalist, was not such a great idea!). I played flute in the Kibbutz Chamber Orchestra for 6 years. After marrying and having my first child, we moved back to the United States, and then returned again to Israel (with a second child!) in 1993. This was the height of the optimistic “Oslo” period when we thought peace in the Middle East was a real possibility. Unfortunately, since then, this dream has continued to escape us.
Gradually, I realized I wanted to work on the issue of the conflict in the region, and when I heard about FoEME’s environmental cooperation and peace-building approach, I asked to be hired!
When did you join the team, and in what capacity?
I started working at FoEME in 2004 as our resource development officer. I have been in charge of many tasks over the years, the most important being reporting on our projects, which I really enjoy. As a reporter to our donors, I have to know in detail all of FoEME’s projects, their activities, what goals we are trying to achieve and the diverse strategies employed to get us there. My position gives me a unique perspective on the strengths of the organization. I am also the website manager, the international media officer, and am in charge of requesting permits and visas for our many cross border project activities.
What are the present challenges in your work, and what inspires you?
The biggest challenge, for me, is to get the flow of information coming from all offices and projects: not only for reporting, but also for everyone in the team to have a good sense of what we are doing, what we are achieving, where we stand and why.
My work is very inspiring. I love what we are aiming to do, and I greatly appreciate the motivation and level of commitment of my colleagues.
Is there any memorable, unique moment in your work with FoEME that you would like to share?
One very memorable moment was our first Jordan River Conference that we held in March 2005 on the Peace Island. That was my first big event with FoEME. It was very exciting to work with both Jordanian and Israeli armies to make it possible, to have such an impressive list of participants, and to launch our Jordan River Rehabilitation Project at such a site.
More recently, last year, another memorable moment was speaking in front of the European Union Parliament. We had the opportunity to present FoEME’s regional approach in advance of a vote for a EU Parliamentary resolution in support of the rehabilitation of the Lower Jordan River – which passed with a wide majority!
This post was written by FoEME intern Amélie Joseph. Amélie is based in FoEME´s Tel Aviv office.