Lily Fisher Gomberg '20

Name: Lily Fisher Gomberg

Year: Midyear, 2020

Hometown: Newton Massachusetts

Majors/minors: Near Eastern Judaic Studies


Her Campus Brandeis: What made you chose to be a midyear?

Lily: I was planning to do a full gap year, but then I was accepted as a midyear and it just worked out.

HC: What did you do for your first semester?

Lily: I went on a trip to Latin America, specifically The Dominican Republic, Costa Rica and Peru. It was a three month immersion and service trip, so we spoke a lot of Spanish, some weeks we were in homestays with local families, and some of the time we were doing service work. Our projects were supposed to directly influence the families with which we were staying. So, for example, we did a project in the Dominican Republic where we did a homestay with the people who lived there and constructed an aqueduct, so that they would have running water for their showers and in their bathrooms.

HC: What was the hardest part of your abroad experience?

Lily: So the hardest part for me actually had nothing to do with the fact that I was abroad, it was more about the people I was abroad with. I had a really bad experience with my group. Two of the people were sent home during the trip, one of them was sent home for being anti-Semitic and making anti-Semitic comments, specifically towards me. So the whole experience made me feel very ostracized for the rest of the trip. I met people on the trip who were “Make America Great Again” Trump supporters, and their beliefs differed from mine. There were also gay slurs going around, there were lots of KKK jokes, and one time I was even told that if I wanted to speak Spanish I should go back to Mexico, which is an immigration thing, even though we were on an immersion trip.

HC: What did you do to handle the situation and still try and make the most of your trip?

Lily: I really liked my group leaders so I spent a lot of time with them. I kept a really in-depth blog. I kept a bullet journal. But mostly I just tried to not interact with them as much as possible, while still living with them.

HC: What do you feel that this experience taught you?

Lily: I feel like that experience made me understand the political situation in The United States much more. I think it gave me some perspective on understanding who I am. I grew up in Newton, Massachusetts, which is a little liberal bubble, and then I came to Brandeis, which is also a little liberal bubble, and I think being able to get out of that bubble and still hold the same beliefs that I do reaffirmed that I have my values, not just because it’s how I grew up, but because it is actually how I feel.

HC: What would be your advice to anyone who goes abroad and encounters a similar social situation?

Lily: I would say stay true to yourself. Don't change your ideals based off what the people around you believe. The best advice I received while I was on my trip was from my dad and he told me, “Lily, however you act today, do it in a way that you're going to be proud of tomorrow.” I didn't let the social interactions completely ruin my trip. I still enjoyed the other parts of my trip. If you’re on a trip where you don't like the people in your group, try to talk to people outside of the group. My Spanish definetely got better because I didn't want to talk to the people in the group as much, so I interacted with other girls living in a dormitory with us in Peru, and I still talk to some of them.

HC: How do you think you’ll carry this experience with you, in your time here at Brandeis?

Lily: I think the trip in general, aside from the social aspect, was incredible. The program I was on was really great, and it really expanded my worldview and made me understand why some of the causes we talk about here at Brandeis are important, like education and the environment. Also, I am enjoying being on campus now and in this community that is so nurturing, keeping in mind that it is not the world. I think right now, with all this political stuff that's happening, it's really easy to recede back, but I'm trying to stay involved with the world outside of Brandeis. 

Fun Facts!

Favorite Color: I’m really obsessed with purple, not so much anymore, but in middle school I would tell people who were wearing people!

Spirit animal: One of the macaroni penguins from Happy Feet, specifically, the ones that dance and have the blue things coming out of their heads

Pets: I have a dog named Jazzy and she’s a Mini Schnauzer