Our dog, Io, is worried. He has seen the duffle bag come out of the closet. What’s happening? I am getting ready to head off with a wonderful group of twenty members of the Class of 2014 on a Senior Project in Israel and Palestine. In my twelve years here I have been on one other Senior Project, to New Orleans to do relief work after Hurricane Katrina in 2006, and I loved it. Senior Projects exemplify the action-based, experiential learning we do at Westtown, and ever since this trip was conceived and approved six years ago, I have wanted to go. But it has never seemed quite the right time. Each time I’ve considered it, I ended up saying, “Next year in Jerusalem.” But this year, with the support of the Head of School Advisory Committee of the Board, and of my administrative colleagues, I planned to go, and I have been attending the planning meetings, along with my wife, Aminda, for the past two months. A former religion teacher, I am fascinated by the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim sites we will see in the Holy Land, by the opportunity to learn about the contemporary political, cultural, and religious situation, and to visit our sister school, Ramallah Friends, in Palestine. I have so much to learn from the people we will meet, and from the students in the group, and our leaders, Jon and Melissa Evans, who lived in Jerusalem for five years and have a wealth of friends and contacts in the region, and History Chair Deb Wood.  This morning in Meeting for Worship, I was moved by the Upper School choir’s beautiful singing: “I want to be ready to walk in Jerusalem, just like John.” Yes, I want to be ready, mentally, spiritually, with a open mind, open hands, and an open heart. I’m sure it will be a life-changing experience for all of us. Now I’ve got some packing to do. Don’t worry Io, we’ll be back soon!  John Baird  

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