Greetings all! My name is Benjamin, a Westtown senior from Massachusetts. For my senior project trip, I am headed off to Israel, Palestine, and Jerusalem. With me will be going 16 (!) of my fellow students and four faculty/adult chaperones. I cannot even begin to express how excited I am that this trip is going, and how much gratitude I have for those who worked tirelessly to make it a possibility. Let me just say thank you now.
So, why, out of the hundreds of possible things I could be doing with my senior project time, did I choose this particular project? The reason is both quite simple, and of course, more complex. The simple reason is this: I feel that this trip will effectively bring my time at Westtown together as I seek closure as I prepare to graduate. So what does that mean? First off, I have taken several classes relevant to what I will be doing and… Wait. I have yet to really share what I am doing there, haven’t I.
The trip will visit many different locations within Israel and Palestine, and some time in Jerusalem as well. I won’t give away all of the details here, but a basic overview includes spending several days at the Ramallah Friends School (a sister school to Westtown in the West Bank which has been sending an exchange student every year to Westtown for a while now), swimming in the Dead Sea, climbing the fortress at Masada, visiting a Palestinian Refugee Camp and an Israeli settlement, meeting and speaking with various religious leaders, and, of course, having a general good time. You will, of course, get all of the details as I go.
Now. As I was saying. In many of my classes I have studied material relevant to the conflict that has been troubling the region for over 60 years now, and the various people who call the land their home. My goal in regards to this, then, is to go in and tie everything I have learned (in history classes, religion classes, etc.) together and come away with a more complete and true picture of exactly what is happening in that part of the world.
On a more spiritual level, I see spirituality as the connection that two completely different people are able to make meeting for the first time (and every time after that). I am hoping that this trip will expose me to a vast array of people, worlds apart from myself, with whom I will be able to connect and learn from. Also, I hope to be challenged on as many levels as possible, and this trip seemed the one to do it. Challenged on an intellectual level, with all the many things I will be learning; challenged on an emotional level, with some of the sights we might see (especially in the refugee camp); and of course, as I just mentioned, a spiritual level as well.
Well, that is all I shall say for now. I will try to write as often as I can, although I cannot guarantee I can get to a computer every day (my trip leaders have said every other, but we shall see on that). Any feedback you would like to offer would be more than welcome, and I will try (emphasis on the try part) to get back to people/answer any questions people might have (that might happen post-fact, though).
One thought on “Opening Thoughts”
Ben, thank you for your thoughtfulness as you embark on this special trip. We will all learn from you and with you. As a Jew involved in int’l peace efforts, I have been increasingly saddened by the lack of understanding on both sides of the Mideast conflict, and at the same time heartened by all of the spontaneous internal peace efforts from both sides. May your trip help clarify what needs to be done to help heal this part of the world.
With gratitude, sherry