2014 Volunteer Corps

Ari Beser 


In 2011, along with graduating from the University of Colorado with a degree in Political Science, Ari received a grant to write a book about both of his grandfathers’ experiences with the atomic bombs. One of his grandfathers was on both planes that dropped the bombs, and his other grandfather had a friend who survived Hiroshima. During the time that Ari has been working on his book about this strange coincidence, he has been to Japan three times and has interviewed over 40 atomic bomb survivors (“Hibakusha” in Japanese.) In April of 2013, Ari interned at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. Later that summer he joined Peace Boat's 80th Voyage as a web reporter for the Global Voyage for a Nuclear Free world, taking 9 survivors around the world to give testimony in each port. Beyond that, Ari is a freelance photographer and has done work for Crocs Inc., Rooster Magazine in Boulder Colorado, and the Boulder Weekly. He also volunteered in the ongoing efforts to clean up the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami in Tohoku Japan and in New York City after Hurricane Sandy with a group called All Hands Volunteers. Ari is very excited to be part of the 2014 Long Term Volunteer Corps.

Danni Falk* 


Danni grew up in New York City and traveled out west for college. A sociology major at Colorado College, she immersed herself in human rights and military studies; she squeezed in sometime to ski as well. During her junior year, Danni studied abroad in Cape Town, South Africa, continuing her human rights studies and volunteering as a literary tutor in a children’s home in Khayelitsha. After graduating in 2010, she moved to Australia and taught a ski season in Thredbo. She then returned to New York and has worked as the Development & Communications Associate at Volunteers of America-Greater New York for the past two years. At VOA, Danni was able to continue her passion for child advocacy and education, drawing from her experience working with adolescents in New York, Colorado Springs, Cape Town and Australia. A fun-loving, adventurous spirit, Danni is thrilled to be joining the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village as a long-term volunteer and JSC Fellow for 2013-2014. BLOG: http://danniinthelandofathousandhills.blogspot.com/

Sasha Friedman 


Sasha Friedman was born and raised in New York City, before attending Dickinson College in central Pennsylvania. She graduated in 2012 with a B.A in Political Science and concentrations in Africana Studies and Environmental Science. While at Dickinson, Sasha studied abroad at the University of Limerick in Ireland and L’Università di Bologna in Italy, where she studied international relations and European Government. In 2010, Sasha spent two months in Lusaka, Zambia working for a grassroots organization known as Chikumbuso: Women and Orphan’s Project. It was during this time that Sasha became invested in the developing world with specific regard to sustainable business initiatives and development. While in Zambia, Sasha served as the sponsorship coordinator in the aims of recruiting Western funding for orphaned students. After graduation Sasha worked as a paralegal at a zoning firm in New York City – all the while plotting her return to Sub-Saharan Africa. In her free time, Sasha enjoys photography, being outside, and not wearing shoes. Sasha is incredibly grateful to be given the opportunity to work with the Agahozo-Shalom staff and students and call Rwanda her home!

Michael was born in Manhattan, but spent his formative years in Teaneck, New Jersey. He chose to return to the big city to attend New York University, where he received his BS in Finance with minors in both Mathematics and Jewish History. He has worked as a research analyst for Stuart Portfolio Consultants, a hedge fund consultancy firm, as well as in the Finance and Operations department at ASYV’s New York office. He has also filled a number of education roles, including teaching the second grade at Town and Village Synagogue’s Hebrew School and giving tours at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, where he focused on the universal impact of the Holocaust and promoting tolerance. Michael loves to travel, having spent time living, studying, and exploring in Israel and Australia, and his passion for Jewish History has sent him to various long-standing Jewish communities throughout Poland, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Hungary, and Portugal. In his spare time, he enjoys skiing, running, playing poker, reading non-fiction, watching documentaries, and solving Rubik’s cubes. BLOG: http://therwanderingjew.blogspot.com/

Michael Kasdan* 


Simon Labone



Although Samantha was born in a small Ohio town, she aspired to experience the world’s splendor at an early age. She earned an M.A. in International Administration with a concentration in International Law from the University of Miami. She also holds a B.S. in International Business from the University of Tampa. While pursuing her master’s degree, Samantha received a scholarship to study abroad at Charles University’s Faculty of Law in Prague, Czech Republic. She was later employed by the same institution to contribute to the development of a new study abroad program for undergraduate students. For over four years, she coordinated the program and led student trips to Poland, Germany, Austria, and Turkey. Samantha’s passion for education resulted from her own enriching experiences gained through travel and living abroad. Her devotion to humanitarian efforts has been fostered by the many student excursions she led to historical sites throughout Eastern Europe and by participating in a human rights program in Rwanda with the organization, Global Youth Connect. Samantha is an avid traveler, loves nature, vegetarian cuisine, and is equally dedicated to the protection of all wildlife. She looks forward to joining the ASYV team and returning to Rwanda. BLOG: http://journeysforthesoul.wordpress.com/about/

Samantha Reynolds 


Arielle Sokoloff was born in Canada but grew up in New York. She graduated from Binghamton University in 2011 with a BA in Political Science and History. After graduation, Arielle spent 4 months volunteering in Nepal with an Israeli organization called Tevel b’Tzedek. She worked with teenagers on developing their leadership skills and she planned events to raise awareness about the importance of education. Her passion for working with teenagers began as a counselor and division leader at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires where she organized community service projects and facilitated programming for campers and staff. She hopes to pursue a career in international development and is thrilled to have the opportunity to serve in Rwanda. She is looking forward to bringing her experience in photography, singing, and program planning to Agahozo-Shalom. BLOG: http://ariellesok.blogspot.com/

Arielle Sokoloff* 


Ali was born in Philadelphia and graduated from Brown in May of 2012 with a B.A. in History. While at school, she pursued her interests in women’s rights and equal access to justice, serving as president of Brown’s STAND chapter and working with Democracy Matters, a campaign finance-reform student group. After graduating, Ali served as a field organizer for a local congressional campaign and worked on producing vegetables on organic farms at various locations in France. Ali is particularly interested in sustainable development, women’s rights, and getting to know people from different cultures. Ali enjoys traveling, drawing, painting, and is looking forward to her adventure in Rwanda. BLOG: alisinrwandaland.wordpress.com

Ali Wolfson 


Originally from England, Leigh Woods left home at the age of 18 to live in a remote fishing village on the Greek island of Corfu where he worked as a freelance artist, hand painting murals and signs for local businesses. Seeking a new environment, Leigh left Greece four years later and headed to the Czech Republic where he began a five-year career in IT, working for both McKinsey & Company and Wincor Nixdorf. At the age of 27 Leigh decided the time had come to follow his lifelong passion, focussing his efforts toward building a career in wildlife conservation. He ventured to South Africa where he studied to become a certified field guide, leading safaris and teaching guests about the importance of wildlife conservation and preserving the natural environment. Leigh's hobbies and interests include travelling, sports, wildlife photography, bird watching and art – all of which have played a large role in his life. He is excited to join the cohort of volunteers at Agohozo-Shalom and hopes to use his skills and life experiences to help make a positive contribution toward the mission, whilst learning about the Rwandan people and their rich culture.

Leigh Woods 


Yael was born in Oakland, California and at the age of 7 immigrated to Israel with her family. While growing up in Jerusalem she was and active Israeli Scout and was involved with a hotline for teens at risk. She was a commander of basic training in the IDF and worked with new immigrant soldiers. Following her service she attended Bezalel Academy of Art and Design and completed a Bachelors of Fine Art with an emphasis in photography. Later she relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area and attended the San Francisco Art Institute receiving her MFA in Photography in 2011. She is a mixed media artist focusing on photography, video and performance. Yael has exhibited her work internationally in Europe, the United States and the Middle East. Her art practice investigates cotemporary, disjointed identity and how communities process collective memory. She is a devote Yogi and enjoys busting a move to reggae and Gypsy funk beats. Currently Yael works in San Francisco as a Youth Director mentoring teens and youth in an informal education setting. She is ecstatic that she has been given the opportunity to join the ASYV family and can’t wait to get started! BLOG: http://ihanganemeanspatience.blogspot.com/

Yael Zaken* 


* Denotes Volunteers who are part of the Jewish Service Corps program of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee