Reflection by Kelsey Worthy, Guest Writer
Photos of 2013 J-Term trip by Kelly Lewis
The Israel/Palestine trip I went on through Guilford College nearly two years ago was an extremely enlightening experience for me. I grew up with my best and closest family friends being pretty active in the Jewish community. My family, however, is not particularly religious, but I started off the trip with a decent knowledge of and a strong interest in Judaism.
The trip I went on had us staying nearly exclusively in Palestine (I think the J-term version spent more time in Israel) where I got to meet a lot of people, including Jewish Israelis, who had really intense and interesting stories like their land being taken for settlements, or having to cross the borders for leukemia treatments, and just general day-to-day anecdotes about their experiences with the Israel/Palestine conflict.
I think that because we came with a Quaker purpose, and the Boys’ School is so important to Ramallah, people were extremely kind and open to our group. In the end of it all, I came away with a pretty sour taste in my mouth regarding the Israeli government’s involvement in the conflict, but not at all towards the Israeli citizens. Israelis and Palestinians alike, the people we spoke with were extremely pro-peace and were searching for a compromise that could solve things as painlessly as possible, considering all the damage that has already been done.
More than anything, the experience really deepened my understanding of the overwhelming complications and conflicts facing the area. I wish I could say from my experience I feel sure that positive change would come soon, but I think there is a very long road to travel past before either party as a whole is going to feel at ease and able to forgive.
I would really encourage anyone with interests in religion, politics, or peace studies to try to make it out on this trip at some point. It was an experience that made me want to learn compassion and care for the silenced and misunderstood populations of the world, and made me want to do something to contribute to the change I hope to see.