The Middle East cross-cultural group with Jaffa in the background. (Courtesy photo)

Cross-cultural blog chronicles the start of Middle East travels

Each semester, Eastern Mennonite University students and their cross-cultural leaders embark on journeys. Wherever you are in the world, stay tuned to their travels by checking out the cross-cultural blog.

In the first post from Israel/Palestine, Larissa Graber, Lindsay Acker and Owen Musselman share of travels in Tel Aviv, Jaffa and Jericho.

From Larissa’s post:

Our feet ache with heartbeats of a new adventure, and our mouths still fall agape at the sight of this beautiful land. I feel overwhelmed with this unfamiliar place, its deep internal conflict, the languages, and the stares. I do not have much to say about our first week in Israel. My mind, however, proves opposite of my mouth. It has become feral like the Israeli street cats – constantly stirring and pulling up emotional garbage – and I can’t seem to twist my thoughts into comprehensible words. Regardless, I have an immense hope for the good that could come from this diverse desert. The friendships I am forming hold a sense of genuineness I have rarely felt before. I will move onward, Insha’Allah (Arabic for “if Allah allows” or “God willing”) to tomorrow, where our feet will further carry us in the Holy Land.

Right: Ala-Eldin Hamdan MA ’08 (conflict transformation) joined the group with Elad, an Israeli Jew of Moroccan descent, to lead a tour of Jaffa.

From Lindsay:

Who do we believe? How can we get the full story? That is what we are here to do. And it is hard work . . . if it is even possible. The contradictions continue as we learn about different types of peacebuilding efforts by Israelis and Palestinians and organizations made up of both…

Next to this, we hold within us frustrations over the language barrier and the joys of having fun with friends. We are still college students learning what it means to live in this world. We are sleepy and excited, exhausted and rejuvenated. We have more questions than answers, more processing in the works, and we all share a deep sense of something. When we figure out what it is, we’ll let you know.

From Owen:

As we left the town behind us, I reflected more on what it was that made me fall in love with history in the first place. It wasn’t some vain idea of being a “world adventurer” it was the idea of seeing the places where people had lived their lives and to have the opportunity to walk in their footsteps, experiencing their holy places, and perhaps most importantly, meeting people like Hamudi who told their stories and kept their myths and legends alive.

Timeline of cross-cultural milestones

Learn more about future cross-cultural trips

Spring 2018

  • India – Kim G. Brenneman & Bob Brenneman

Summer 2018

  • Kenya  – Roxy Allen Kioko & Felix Kioko
  • Paraguay – Laura Yoder & Greta Ann Herin

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