Exploring Israel

When I first decided to travel to Israel for a class on the Arab Israeli conflict I was totally unsure of what to expect. I had nothing more than a basic knowledge of the conflict and a desire travel and to learn more about it. After having taken the course I would recommend it to anyone who even considering it and I will probably badger people who haven’t.  I honestly found the trip to be simultaneously one of the most educational and enjoyable experiences I have ever had.

We were only in Israel for 13 days but I feel like I easily learned a semesters worth of information.  What is so engaging about this trip is that almost every learning experience is hands on or interactive.  This is a conflict between two peoples whose identity and history have left their holy sites and residences overlapped and intertwined and placed them at odds.  To understand the extent of this entangling it is incredibly helpful to actually travel to Israel and see it first hand. Understanding why the wailing wall and the Dome of the Rock can not be separated or governed spereately becomes clear when one stands at the base of the Wailing wall and sees how it is one of the walls holding up the floors of the Dome of the Rock.  Understanding what is meant by “Israeli settlement” is much easier when being driven through an Israeli settlement butyl over twenty years ago that is home to over forty thousand people.  Being able to speak with native Israelis’ and Palestinians from all sides of the political spectrum really helped us all develop a fuller and deeper understanding of the conflict.  

It was also an incredibly fun trip.  It is trip centered around a tense conflict and at times the seriousness of the topic did weigh on the group but mostly the trip was just an incredible and positive experience.  The course is designed for students to get a better understanding of the culture and feel of the place they are visiting.  We explored old fashioned markets and haggled for the best deals on hamsa wall hangings and packs of post cards, we ate at hole in the wall restaurants, in open air cafes and by the harbor, we traveled to beautiful holy sites, famous gardens and we swam in the Sea of Galilee just for the fun of it.

I am incredibly glad that I went on this trip I felt that it truly challenged and changed my world perspective all while managing to be both educational and incredibly enjoyable (which we all know is no mean feat). I would recommend this course to anyone and everyone who likes to travel and intellectual debate.

The last night in Israel.




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