Meet the ‘Newhouse in Israel’ team

10 days. 15 students (8 grad and 7 undergrad). 2 professors. 5 JPC staff members. (Who is she/who is he/who are they??)

I wanted to take the time to thank the people who made this trip so memorable and rewarding. I don’t want to speak for everyone, but I think we started out the trip as professional colleagues and ended as friends. Scroll below to read more about each person! And huge shoutout to J.R. Pierce, the official ‘candids’ photographer for the trip. Follow his Instagram @thejrpierce.


Tom (Photo credit: J.R. Pierce).

“They told me I had to cut my hair, so I wanted to be a producer,” Tom explained his rationale for not wanting to be on camera.

Tom Austen is a senior at Syracuse University, studying Broadcast & Digital journalism. He’s from outside of Philly, Villanova specifically. Tom has studied abroad in Italy, and says he knows Italian “pretty well.” He’s a big politics guy; his minor is Global Political Economy. And last year, he was the producer of ‘Talking Points‘ – a political show on SU’s student-run television station Citrus TV. Over the course of his college career, he has been a fellow at the International Radio & Television Society in NYC and an intern at CBS Investigates.

Story: Coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians.

Fun fact: Tom is related to Jane Austen.


Or (Photo credit: J.R. Pierce).

“I love oldies. Anything from the 60s. The Beatles. Simon and Garfunkel,” Or shared her music taste at our last dinner of the trip.

Or Avrahami is a Program Coordinator at the Jerusalem Press Club, where she works on various projects including their CrowdFunding Campaign. Her name means light in Hebrew; and the meaning is on point because she is such a ray of light! Or is originally from Tel Aviv, but came to Jerusalem to study at Hebrew University. Before university, she served in the IDF in the intelligence corps.

Fun fact: Or speaks both Hebrew and Arabic!


Esha (Photo credit: J.R. Pierce).

“I have another interview tonight,” Esha said cooly as she was about to leave for one of her many scheduled interviews. Even after our official itinerary ended each day, she always had more work planned. (Always #hustling).

Esha Barlingay is a Broadcast & Digital Journalism student in the master’s program. She is from Mumbai, India and she completed her undergrad at Institute of Information Technology in Pune. Here, Esha studied computer engineering so coming to Newhouse was a major career shift. She also speaks five languages! English, Hindi, Marathi, Telgu, and Kannada. She is interning at Channel 9 in Syracuse this semester.

Story: Israelis traveling outside of the country to get married.

Story 2: IDF soldiers going to India for a hiatus after their service.

Fun fact: Esha loves nature and hiking.


Tal (Photo Credit: J.R. Pierce).

Me: “Can we get breakfast before going to the Dead Sea?”

“If you can still float after,” Tal responded to me with one of his usual quips. 

Tal Bouhnik is a Program Coordinator at the Jerusalem Press Club. He is originally from Ashqelon, Israel (about 40 minutes south of Tel Aviv). At Hebrew University in Jerusalem, he studied International Relations and Sociology. While he was in IDF, he served in the intelligence corps.

Fun fact: Tal loves indie music and is a frequent concert-goer!


Riley (Photo Credit: J.R. Pierce).

“I feel like we’re wiser than everyone in America because we’re seven hours ahead,” Riley shared, in a thoughtful reflection about the seven hour time difference.

Riley Bunch is a senior at Syracuse University, majoring in Magazine & Newspaper Journalism and minoring in photography. Riley is  from Seattle, Washington and when people ask her why she came all the way to Syracuse she says “because of the weather, duh!” After transferring to Syracuse in the spring of 2016, she was the photo editor at the Daily Orange newspaper. Last semester, Riley was the visual lead producer for The NewsHouse. She was also one of  The NewsHouse’s main photographers for the men’s basketball team, a job she loves and misses. After graduating, she plans to move back to Seattle and work as a freelancer. Check out her online portfolio here and her photography Instagram here.

Story: African asylum seekers in Israel

Fun fact: Riley goes to the gym everyday, and she squats 185 pounds.


Alison (Photo credit: J.R. Pierce).

Me: “What was my high point of this trip?” 

“Meeting me,” Alison said in response to my question. Alison is a journalist and only speaks the truth. 

Alison Caliguire is a Broadcast & Digital Journalism grad student from Princeton, New Jersey. She is my queen. She asked me why I kept calling her “my queen” throughout the trip, and I said it’s something that is indescribable. Like love. Alison went to Wake Forest University for her undergraduate degree. She studied political science and then went on to work in political communications in D.C. for a few years. She learned a lot working in politics, but now she is ready to make her mark in the journalism world. This semester, Alison has been interning at CNY Central.

Story: Gender-segregated spaces

Fun fact: When Alison was 9, her younger brother stabbed her with a pencil, and you can still has the graphite in her palm. But don’t worry, they have a great relationship now!


Nathan (Photo credit: J.R. Pierce).

“I’ve looked like I’m in my 30s since I was 15.” -Nathan remarked about his appearance. 

Nathan Dickinson is a senior from Chesterton, Indiana, studying Broadcast & Digital Journalism at Syracuse University. On campus, he works for Orange Fizz and WAER. He is a also a freelancer for theScore, a sports-media company based in Toronto. Nathan is also a radio host for Barstool Cuse, which he describes as “real people” watching and talking about sports, and not just anchors in a studio.

Story: Tech industry in Israel

Story 2: Israeli soldier training

Fun fact: Nathan came late to our first day of class because his watch was still set to central time instead of EST.


Uri (Courtesy of KesherDay)

“Wait, Mr. Prime Minister we’re not ready yet!” Uri said to the leaders of Israel and Jordan when they came out of the room after a long night of peace negotiations. They then got ready for the public announcement.

Uri Dromi is the Director General of the Jerusalem Press Club, Before JPC, he was the Director of Mishkenot Sha’ananim Conference Center, a venue for international artistic and cultural activities in Jerusalem. Uri has quite literally lived history because he was the spokesperson for the Rabin and Peres governments from 1992-1996. He has published three books (is working on a fourth), and he writes a regular column for the Miami Herald. Read more about Uri here.

Fun fact: Uri was there during the Oslo Accords, and for the peace agreement between Israel and Jordan.


Sam (Photo credit: J.R. Pierce).

“I bring it on dates. My girlfriend does not like it,” Sam said about his reporter notepad. 

Sam Fortier is a senior Magazine major from New Hampshire. In high school, he played basketball and baseball. He is staff writer for The Daily Orange newspaper and was also the sports editor there last year. He is also a frequent contributor to The Ringer and The Athletic. Sam wasn’t too happy when our flight from Istanbul, Turkey to NYC got cancelled because he wanted to cover SU’s appearance in the Sweet Sixteen, but then produced this gem: “I bet against Jim Boeheim. Then I got stuck in Istanbul.” He was also one of only two reporters invited to cover Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett on Draft Day last year. (Read his article: The Making of Myles Garrett). This summer, Sam will be in D.C. working as a sports writer for The Washington Post.

Story: Future of Palestinian leadership

Fun fact: Sam was a bait-boy in Maine over the summers during high school.

Fun fact 2: Sam has been to Cuba!


Vanessa (Photo credit: J.R. Pierce)

“Don’t be sorry, be on time,” Vanessa said when I apologized for being 5 minutes late to our morning meeting.

Vanessa Kacherginsky is the Deputy Director General at the Jerusalem Press Club, where she is in charge of leading the team and maintaining collaborations with NGOs, international organizations, corporations, the Israeli government, and the tech industry. She also served in the IDF in the intelligence corps, and she got her degree in International Relations and East Asian Studies at Hebrew University. She also went on to get an M.A. in East Asian Studies, focusing on Chinese studies. Before JPC, Vanessa worked at the Knesset’s visitors centers. Read more about Vanessa here.

Fun fact: Vanessa is fluent in Hebrew, English and French and has intermediate proficiency in Chinese.

Fun fact 2: Vanessa spent a year in France teaching Hebrew!


Joel Kaplan (Photo credit: J.R. Pierce).

“I’m preparing for my free reporting day at the beach,” Professor Kaplan said about how he was going to spend the free time in our itinerary. 

Joel Kaplan is the Associate Dean for Professional Graduate Studies at Newhouse. He is a former investigative journalist and as worked at The Chicago Tribune and The Tennessean. Professor Kaplan was also a Nieman fellow at Harvard in 1985, and he has master’s degrees from Yale and the University of Illinois. He has also worked for Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Read more about Professor Kaplan here.

Fun fact: Professor Kaplan is coauthor of Murder of Innocence: The Tragic Life and Final Rampage of Laurie Dann.


Shweta (Photo credit: J.R. Pierce).

“Please don’t leave without me,” Shweta said to the group, after they had already ditched her once (accidentally) in Istanbul. 

Shweta Karikehalli is a Syracuse native, pursuing a graduate degree in Magazine, Newspaper & Online Journalism. And for her undergrad, she studied Conservation Biology at SUNY-ESF so she is very familiar with the Syracuse campus. Shweta is an an Assistant News Copy Editor for The Daily Orange  newspaper and she is a freelance writer for Syracuse Woman Magazine. Shweta is passionate environmental issues, and her dream job would be to work at National Geographic!

Story: Desalinization

Fun fact: Shweta once went to a pirate festival when she lived on Tybee island.


Michael (Photo credit: J.R. Pierce).

“You can turn someone’s horrible day into a great day,” Michael said about being ‘Otto the Orange,’ Syracuse University’s mascot. 

Michael Lehr is a senior at Syracuse University studying Broadcast and Digital Journalism. He’s from California but his family lives in New Jersey now. Michael is a host for WAER and a writer for Nunes Magician. This summer, he will be working in Maryland as a broadcaster for the Aberdeen IronBirds, an affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles. Over the course of his college career, he has interned with the IronBirds and also for Fox News in NYC. When he’s not reporting or talking about sports, he is playing for his intramural basketball team ‘Slumdunk millionaires.’ Since sophomore year, he has also been the college mascot ‘Otto the Orange.‘ Usually, the identity of Otto is kept a secret, but just a few months ago on ‘senior night,’ Michael was one of the six seniors revealed to be Otto. He literally bleeds orange! Nothing but respect for MY mascot.

Story: Bedouin community

Fun fact: Michael likes to watch the sunrise in every new city he travels to.


Lindsey (Photo credit: J.R. Pierce).

“You’re so brave.” – Lindsey said to Alison because Alison was wearing white pants to the Syrian border.

Lindsey McClafferty is a Magazine, Newspaper & Online Journalism graduate student from Binghamton, New York. She went to Binghamton University, where she majored in English and History and minored in Education. Lindsey interned at a middle school during undergrad and says she has developed a strong passion for American schools and education policy. She came to Newhouse because her dream is to be an education beat reporter. At Syracuse, she is an editor for Equal Time, a women’s lifestyle magazine. She also writes for and Advance Media NY. Check out her online portfolio here.

Story: Education system in Israel.

Fun fact: Lindsey lost a baby tooth during her senior year of college.


Christine (Photo credit: J.R. Pierce).

“I’m really interested in farm politics,” Christine said, talking about foreign politics, but this is what I heard because of her strong Philly accent.

Christine Morton is from Philadelphia, where she was a teacher for three years. She went to LaSalle University and majored in Secondary Education and Spanish, with a minor in English. She also studied in Spain and is fluent in Spanish! She said teaching was a really rewarding career, but journalism was always her dream. That’s why she came to Newhouse to pursue a master’s degree in Broadcast & Digital Journalism. Christine is a weekend news reporter for WAER 88.3, and she just finished up her internship at WKTV in Utica. Christine loves foreign politics (not farm politics), and she is also passionate about lifestyle blogging.

Story: Living on the border

Fun fact: Christine is a makeup enthusiast!


Lily (Photo credit: J.R. Pierce).

“Oh please don’t be in Hebrew,” Lily said as she was searching for information online. Lily does not speak Hebrew.

Lileana Pearson is a graduate student in the Broadcast & Digital Journalism program. Originally from Kentucky, she was a collegiate athlete at Lindsey Wilson College, where she was on the swim team. Lily was a Media Studies major there and ended up graduating a year early! She says she always knew she wanted a master’s degree. During undergrad, she worked for her college newspaper and the local newspaper in Columbia, Kentucky. This semester, Lily has been working for WAER FM.

Story: Safety of journalists working in Israel and the Palestinian territories

Fun fact: Lily was homeschooled, and she has a dog named Addy.

Fun fact 2: Lily is my Instructional Assistant (IA) for my TV reporting class this semester!


Simon Perez (Photo credit: J.R. Pierce).

“It sounds like what you would say when you upload all your footage and Adobe Premiere crashes, ‘Kuzamachi!'” Professor Perez talking about Kuzamachi, a stuffed-grape leaf dish we tried in Israel. 

Simon Perez is a Broadcast & Journalism professor at the Newhouse school. He has over 25 years of experience as a working journalist, and over the summer when he’s not teaching, he goes back to work at CBS station KPIX in San Francisco. He has experience as both an English and Spanish reporter; in fact, he completed his graduate degree in Spain and worked at a Spanish newspaper and magazine there. When he returned to the U.S., he started his television career in Macon, Georgia and then went on to Richmond, Virginia. Eventually he ended up in the San Francisco market. Professor Perez began teaching at Syracuse University in 2011. Check out his website here.

Fun fact: Professor Perez swam in the Alcatraz Bay in San Fransisco.


Jerald Raymond Pierce. This photo is lower quality than the others because it was taken by me, and not J.R.

“That painting really speaks to me. What’s it saying? ‘I don’t know how to paint,'” J.R. said about an abstract painting.

Jerald Raymond Pierce is a theatre fanatic from Indianapolis.He studied theatre during his undergraduate career at Ohio University, and is now at Syracuse pursuing a graduate degree in arts journalism. His dream job was an actor but he says he is a “failed actor.” Now, his dream job is to be a theatre critic. In a previous life (i.e. before coming to Syracuse University), J.R. was a Corporate Meeting Coordinator for JP Morgan Chase in Chicago. J.R. says he misses the Midwest; but he’s still connected with his roots as an editor for Chicago Stage Standard and a writer for Colts Authority. This semester, J.R. goes to NYC every weekend for his job at American Theatre magazine. Check out his website here and his photography Instagram account here.

Story: Theatre as a means of political expression.

Fun fact: J.R. has covered the NFL Hall of fame inductions.

Fun fact 2: J.R. learned to fly planes at age 13!


Odeya (Photo credit: J.R. Pierce).

“The song ‘My neck, my back’ is actually about my spinal issues,” Odeya said to express her traveler’s pains after frequent bus rides and long airplane trips.

Odeya Pinkus is originally from Warwick, New York, and she is at Syracuse, pursuing a master’s degree in Broadcast & Digital Journalism. For undergrad, Odeya went to Binghamton University and majored in English, with a rhetoric concentration. She was also a theatre minor and did improv. Odeya was also very involved with media on campus, hosting her own radio show and working as an editor for her college newspaper. This trip was actually Odeya’s sixth trip to Israel – her mom is Israeli and she still has family there. This is also her second trip with Newhouse – in January she went on a 10-day reporting trip to South Africa. This semester, she is interning for Bridge Street, a show on News Channel 9. Here wisdom on life and travel is this: “Life, is but a tapestry. Woven together. By the laughter we share, the memories we make, and the friends, that tie it all together in the end.”

Story: Comedy in Israel

Story 2: Rawabi, the first planned Palestinian city

Fun fact: Odeya was on Season 4 Episode 2 of Girls as an unpaid extra.


Sara (Photo Credit: J.R. Pierce).

Lileana Pearson: “This is the most you’ll ever feel like a duck.”

Sara: “Or a swan!”

Sara Swann is a senior at Syracuse University majoring in Newspaper & Online Journalism and minoring in Political Science. Last year, she was the news editor at The Daily Orange newspaper. And she’s wrapping her last semester there as a senior staff writer. Last summer, she interned at Open Secrets D.C., a non-partisan center that tracks money in politics. Sara said working there helped her develop research and data journalism skills. And before that, Sara studied abroad in London for a semester. According to her Twitter bio, Sara is a “lover of cats, coffee, and chocolate.” Check out her work for The Daily Orange here.

Story: Palestinian children detained by Israeli police

Fun fact: Sara makes the best dark chocolate brownies ever (she learned from her mom!). I haven’t actually tried them but I will confirm this fun fact on Tuesday when she bakes brownies for our class.

Raya Koval Umansky

Raya (Courtesy of her Facebook).

“Welcome!” Raya said as she and Tal greeted us at Ben Gurion airport around midnight. 

Raya Kova Umansky is the Project Manager and Press Liaison at the Jerusalem Press Club. . She is originally from St. Petersburg, Russia and moved to Israel in 2006. Like our other JPC coordinators, she also went to Hebrew University in Jerusalem. There, she got a master’s degree in Management of Non-Profit Organizations. Outside of her work at JPC, Raya volunteers for different projects for Russian-Speaking Jewry. Read more about Raya here.

Fun fact: Raya walks very fast despite her small legs (according to her husband).

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