I’ll never forget my summer in Israel
When I left my home in Houston, I questioned my sanity. Not being the adventurous type, the thought of spending several weeks in Israel seemed crazy. I flew to Tel Aviv with 35 other students, and as I got off the airplane, the first thing I noticed was a group of soldiers carrying machine guns across their bodies. This further solidified my hesitation about being in this region. Watching cable news regularly for weeks before I left my country, I understood that this was a land of uncertainty.
The days and weeks that followed were challenging and rigorous. As a student member of a Jewish youth group, I traveled the country doing community service work and experiencing the lifestyle of the Israelis. The Israeli guide delved into the history of the region and exposed us to the culture. Stopping for a bottle of water or to use a restroom had to be cleared with one of the security guards/medics beforehand. The day’s itinerary was cleared through Israeli Intelligence before our bus driver pulled out each morning. At night we relaxed, conversing with local Israeli teenagers and learned what life was like for an 18 year old who had just enlisted in the army. I was so moved to hear of their ultimate enthusiasm.
The most challenging part of my stay was coming to terms with the unrest that was stirring in the Gaza area after an Israeli soldier was kidnapped. Unexpectedly, our bus trip from southern Israel to Jerusalem had to take a circuitous route and also departed earlier than planned. I knew my belief in the Israeli people was complete when I realized how comfortable I actually felt being in this region, even though minor gunfire had already been exchanged.
This trip was a highlight of my life. Although, I have traveled to other countries before, with the comfort of my family and in safer regions, Israel has a unique culture. Its people have tremendous determination, which in turn gave me a sense of calm. This experience made me aware that adventure can take on many meanings.
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