I’ll Be Back!

Wow. Words cannot even describe what an incredible experience this trip has been. But I’ll try! Coming into the program I really didn’t know what to expect. I am a Global Studies major with Multi-Language and I’ve always been fascinated by international relations. I come from a predominately Jewish town and I have always heard the Israeli narrative up until a certain extent. Many of my friends have grown up going to Jewish Day schools and going to temple and sometimes I would be invited to a shabbat dinner here and there. Overall I had no real idea what was happening in Israel/Palestine so I figured why not go and find out! Signing up for the course I had no real idea what the trip would entail  I figured that I would just find out once I got into the country. Once the group landed, we hit the ground running. Our schedule was packed each day with information, tours and speakers.

How can you even begin to tackle the Israeli Palestinian conflict in 12 days you might ask? Let me tell you how. Each day we would embark to a different part of Israel that dealt with one branch of the conflict. Yes, in hindsight the problem seems to focus on the Israelis and Palestinians fighting over territory, but it is so much more. Not only did we study the conflict but then we delved into the cleavages within Israeli society. We learned about the Orthodox Jews, the settlers and the secular Jews. We spoke to a variety of different people advocating for different organizations. Each day was a different experience from the last, our tours packed with information that sometimes took a couple days to process.

I believe that the phrase “The more you know the less you understand” is very applicable to this trip. Every time we would unearth a different topic or idea it would leave us with new questions. It is so hard to fully understand the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians but through different narratives it becomes clearer. Because of this trip I feel confident about my opinion on the conflict. My information is credible because I experienced someone sharing their life story of what like is like for them under the occupation. I have been to places mentioned on the news, I have seen with my own eyes the extent of Israeli control.

People need to take a risk and get out of their comfort zone. It’s unfortunate that many people believe that Israel is a dangerous place, because having been there it couldn’t be further from the truth. I have never felt safer in a country, so much so that I want to go back and study abroad in Tel-Aviv. I am fascinated by the conflict and the underlying issues within, that I want to continue studying.

The experiences I have gained from the trip are unforgettable. We had an incredible group of students on this trip who made the experience worthwhile. The dynamic in the group was fluid and fun! If this course was offered again I would sign up for it in a heartbeat. I would take it over and over again because there is always more to learn. Taking this course helped spur on my enjoyment of learning so much so that I would go back today. There is nothing that I would change about this course and I can only recommend it to anyone who will listen.

 

It’s only been two days and I already want to be back.

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