Sunday, May 29, 2011

Politics, Activism, and....Reptiles!

I returned from a hectic week and a half on Thursday night.  I ended up not going to the alumni gathering because I missed everyone on the kibbutz (and actually had some work to do).  My time away was split up into three parts:

1. PELS (Peace-building and Environmental Leadership Seminar) trip
  • PELS is a weekly seminar for all the students comprised of discussions, guest speakers, and workshops.  We've covered everything from the Holocaust to "compassionate listening" to an-Nakba - the aim is to move towards peace by engaging the diverse group of students here.
  • I don't really know how to describe the trip - there were many ups and downs.  One moment we'd be hearing from residents of Sderot, an Israeli town that is the target of rockets from Gaza, and where every building has a shelter. Then we'd be spending time with Palestinian families in Susiya in the West Bank, where Israeli settlers constantly encroach on their lands.  I've had more than enough interactions with the IDF (Israeli army).  We heard from Benny Begin (right-wing Israeli politician) and immediately after from Christopher Gunness (UN Relief and Works Agency).
We climbed up to a little indent in the rock during the initial hike
View of the Gaza strip (beyond the wall) from near Sderot
Posing with Sderot kids in the largest secure indoor playground
Palestinian village of Susiya
My favorite little girl from Susiya - she loved being carried upside down :P
  • Everything is very nuanced here, and I'm sorry if these details are confusing or too jargon-y.  When I'm back in the U.S., please ask me about these experiences, how my views have changed, and really anything about my time here.

2. Activism Festival 
  • I only spent a day and a half there, but it was a nice hippie-filled time in the HaZore'a Forest near Haifa.  I attended workshops about traditional crafts and practical ecology, and heard from former soldiers stationed in Hebron and two guys who were in Cairo during the revolution there.
  • Lots of live reggae and jazz, plus it was nice to camp in a forest again (versus the desert)

3. Second Biodiversity of Sand Dunes field trip
  • For our second trip we stayed in a field school for five days near the Nizzanim dunes, which are on the Mediterranean coast between Ashdod and Ashkelon.
  • This time we were separated into taxonomic groups (insects, rodents, reptiles, plants, and soil).  I chose reptiles for obvious reasons:

 Thanks for reading this long post! (if you're still reading, that is)

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