Eastern Mennonite University offers two Alumni and Friends Cross-Cultural trips in 2017 and 2018 to Israel/Palestine and Central America/Cuba. The cross-cultural requirement has been an important and transformative curricular requirement for all EMU students since 1982 (12 optional trips were hosted from 1972 to 1982). An alumni tour was first offered in 2011. (EMU file photo)

EMU to offer alumni and friends cross-cultural trips during Centennial year

Was your cross-cultural a transformative experience? Would you like to travel again in the same way, learning from locals and visiting off-the-beaten-path places?

Or have you heard so many stories of cross cultural that you want a taste of this unique kind of learning?

Eastern Mennonite University will offer Alumni and Friends Cross Cultural Tours to Israel/Palestine in 2017, and possibly Central America/Cuba in 2018.

“The alumni engagement office is excited to offer these trips to alumni and friends of the university,” says Jeff Shank, director of alumni and parent engagement. “We want to continue to offer opportunities that allow for our alumni to interact and be lifelong learners.”

Earlier this fall, Shank, in cooperation with the Cross Cultural Office and Linford Stutzman, began planning the 2017 tour. The two-week Israel/Palestine tour, led by longtime Middle East cross-cultural leaders Linford and Janet Stutzman, is Oct. 20 – Nov. 3. There are 24 spots available.

Veteran trip leaders Linford and Janet Stutzman will guide the alumni and friends cross-cultural trip to Israel/Palestine, scheduled for Oct.20-Nov. 4. (EMU file photo)
Veteran trip leaders Linford and Janet Stutzman will guide the alumni and friends cross-cultural trip to Israel/Palestine, scheduled for Oct.20-Nov. 4. (EMU file photo)

Linford Stutzman led a similar parents-and-alumni trip to the Middle East in 2011, which was met with “immense enthusiasm,” he says.

Participants will travel individually to Tel Aviv. From there, they will begin a fortnight of learning and travel, to include lectures and discussion on biblical history, exploring archaeological sites, engaging in current social issues of Palestinians and Israeli Jews, and enjoying local food and the unique geography of the region.

“We will be staying in some of the same places as we use for the students – the very best locations, the favorite people, the most unusual,” says Stutzman. “Because this is a much shorter experience, we will spend the entire time in Israel/Palestine, connecting with the highlights of the biblical story, history, religions, and current political situation in much the same way as we do with the students, but with less time.”

Destinations include Beit Sahour, Bethlehem, the Sea of Galilee and Jerusalem.

“The schools, churches, mosques . . . fill the town with an air of that everyday festivity that is characteristic of small, picturesque towns,” wrote student Diego Barahona while in Beit Sahour. “It is this ‘everydayness’ that especially brings to life the miraculous events of old that occured in this area.”

Another excursion will be hiking part of the Jesus Trail “to Cana, an Arab town that remembers Jesus’ first miracle,” says Stutzman. The trail was founded by alumnus David Landis ‘04 with an Israeli friend in 2007. Anna Dintaman ‘05 Landis joined the project the following year.

Stutzman says that he and Janet love the impact they observe on cross-cultural participants.

“This potential for life-changing moments occurs in random encounters walking the streets of Jerusalem, around a meal in a Palestinian home, standing on the cliffs of Arbel overlooking the Sea of Galilee,” says Stutzman. “The enthusiasm and joy of travelers is our most rewarding part of the journey.”

Learn More

Read more about EMU’s distinctive cross-cultural study program, one of the first of its kind in North America [history buffs will want to read this article by Andrew Jenner ’04].

Visit the cross-cultural blog where students post photos and entries while on recent trips.

Read about the life-changing experiences of the 2012 Middle East group.