“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
Too overweight to ever be chosen for football practice, uninspired by school, dealing with a family divorce, and spending several unforgettable days in a bomb shelter — sweating and shivering in my gas mask during the Gulf War — my childhood years were challenging at best. In fact, they almost caused me to stop believing in myself.

Many were my teachers. A tenacious and caring mother who motivated me through long nights memorizing Jewish history. A military officer who forced me to wash floors all weekend as punishment for a minor misconduct. Kashiwagi Sensei, my formidable and energetic Japanese teacher — the tallest 4'-10" woman I have ever met. The lesson was consistent: They expected more from me, a lot more.

In 2004, I took these lessons and have doubled-down my bets on education, the power of human potential, and high expectations. I started MEET, a top-level education program for tomorrow's most promising Israeli and Palestinian high-school students. The uncertain future of our region challenges these students to have high expectations from themselves. Their belief in themselves and others will determine the future of our region. I constantly remind them of just that.

I will never be that doubtful boy again. I have come to learn that expectations are self-fulfilling. I will have high expectations. High expectations of my countrymen, my family, my peers, my wife, and most importantly — high expectations of myself.


— Assaf Harlap