I originally signed up for this course because of my interest in world conflicts and security; as well as to gain insight on one of the longest conflicts in recent history. Also, as a government major, this was a great way to earn a credit, while abroad, on a very interesting and relevant topic. With that said, this course was not specific to government majors, as everyone could benefit from learning more about this conflict.
Going into the course, I was looking at it just in that way, as a course. However, it was much more than that. Not only did I try some amazing food, see some breathtaking sites (both positive and negative), and create some great new friendships, I learned more about myself. After seeing some of the oppression that the Palestinians and Bedouins face, I questioned my own values in an attempt to see how I would react in this same situation had I been in the same situation. This, I feel, gave me a greater perspective on the effects that the conflict had on those involved. Yes, we did have readings and small assignments along the way, but they were very relevant to the topic for the day. The readings led into the topic for the day, and we read them. However, we could have read from a textbook back at SLU. Without seeing settlements, checkpoints, all of the security forces, and the profiling first hand, we would not have been able to truly get an understanding of what was really going on between the people.
At the beginning, I had a feeling that the conflict was strictly the people of Israel against the people of Palestine, with some peace activists thrown in the mix somewhere. However, we also looked at the cleavages in Israeli society and how that has had an effect on the conflict. I had not been aware of this previously. We talked with activists, settlers, government officials, fighters turned peace-makers and more. In doing so, we were able to get the full spectrum of what many different people thought of the conflict and how they faced it.
I would easily sign up for this course a second. Not just because it was such a great time and valuable learning experience, but because the conflict is not over. It is not as if we were studying the conflict right after it had been resolved. We were studying an ongoing conflict that is going to evolve as time progresses, which means there is always more to learn. Plus, I by no means would consider myself an expert on the conflict.
This was easily one of the best experiences of my life.