Israel Discovered, Lots More Uncovered
Thinking critically, communicating effectively, and developing empathy are important skills to have as students in QUEST. Similarly, Israel Discovered values these abilities as well
Israel Discovered is a trip that takes 25 community leaders from the University of Maryland to Israel and
Four student leaders in QUEST, Doron Tadmor, Ankit Sheth, Joyce Zhou, and David Rosenstein from Q29, were part of the group over winter break. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a touchy subject for many, and as a result, the band-aid solution seems to be avoidance. After reflecting on her time, Joyce said that “sometimes it is easier to just put up barriers and stay in your comfort zone than get to know someone with a different perspective than yours.” With that, during the trip, students were definitely pushed beyond their comfort zone and as Doron put it, ultimately realized that “the conflict in the region is way more complex than meets the eye.”
Everyone has a different walk of life, and in turn, develops different perspectives. It is this that Ankit says “shapes narratives.” He added that “the story is not really the story but one story told by one person’s eyes.” Adding to that, David noted that one person’s truth and facts will be perceived as simply an opinion by someone else. This in and of itself was the value in bringing a diverse group of student leaders from across campus with different ideas and stories to tell.
Q29 is very tightly bound and the opportunity to share such a special place with each other definitely resonated with everyone, especially Doron and David, both of whom had visited Israel in the past. For Doron, Shabbat dinners with Israeli family hosts were a fun and memorable way to share his culture with friends. David appreciated the fact that he got to share parts of Jerusalem that are important to him while getting to see friends of different faiths visit these landmarks for the first time. When the students were not discussing heavy topics, they shared a lot of fun times together: soaking in the Dead Sea, chatting with a tech consultant in Palestine, and eating some of the best food in the world.
With more than 15% of the students coming from QUEST, QUEST themes definitely shined throughout the trip. Doron found himself empathizing and using multiple perspectives to best understand the conflict and to propose solutions that would serve many. In considering these perspectives, Ankit noted, “Beyond the data and the statistics, there are stories that need to be heard.” David made use of the 5-Whys learned in 190H to “get to the deep root of why someone feels the way that they do.”
Time and time again, it is proven that QUEST is full of students that are deep thinkers and leaders. Israel Discovered seeks these kinds of leaders, and more broadly, anyone that loves long discussions and exchanging opinions. Put beautifully by Joyce, “Intertwined with the physical traveling were stories of the people living in the region and while the trip was quick, it was a comprehensive dive into Israel, it’s beauty and its struggles.” Now, these students are back at UMD and are ready to have difficult conversations to bring positive change.