Student Thoughts: What UMass Uncovered (1)

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Note from Elana: One of our outstanding students, Carly, put together an article about The David Project and her Israel Uncovered experience, and included thoughts from fellow busmates. We think the way she engaged her peers to write about their trip is pretty cool and I will share her and her classmates' thoughts with you this week, in two parts! By Carly Korman, Umass Amherst, Bus 4

The David Project is a Boston based non-profit Israel Advocacy organization that works with campuses across the country in educating, training, and empowering student leaders to be successful in their strategic advocacy work. They focus on Relational Advocacy and strongly believe in the idea of finding common ground among diverse student groups to be the most effective approach in Israel advocacy. Israel Uncovered Campus Leaders Mission is a ten-day trip to Israel where Jewish student advocates accompany non-Jewish student leaders and are exposed to different narratives and aspects of Israeli society. UMass had the privilege of sending twenty participants on Israel Uncovered over this past winter break. Four Student Advocates and sixteen Student Leaders representing a myriad of student organizations they are involved in on campus shared this incredible experience together. We participants varied from freshmen to seniors, came from diverse backgrounds of many cultures, and carried a multitude of expectations, hopes, and preconceptions. These are just a few of the innumerable memories and experiences we shared.

from Mickey Jones, Student Government:

Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 10.14.09Prior to spending 10 days in Israel, I had many preconceived notions about what the country would be like politically, socially, but most of all culturally. A lot of my thoughts came from a skewed view of Israel through the western media and my own upbringing in a Christian household. During The David Project’s Israel Uncovered trip I realized there is more to the state of Israel than anything that can be captured in a Wikipedia page or pictures online. The complexity of the citizens living in Israel stems from the different connections that many people have to the land. Many of the students on the trip came from Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and even secular backgrounds yet still felt very connected to where they were. This is also true for the people of Israel and the trip gave us the perfect opportunity to see various narratives that extend beyond anyone’s preconceived notions. Aside from the in-depth, personal experiences from members of Israeli society, the landscape and architecture of the land also gave insight to how ancient and modern aspects of Israel are deeply cherished and make the country what it is. I was deeply shocked by how I grew to love Israel over the course of just 10 days and I am glad I was given such an amazing opportunity to truly uncover Israel.

from Adalwin Rivera, Greek Community, RA:

Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 10.16.03When I first encountered The David Project's Israel Uncovered Trip, its staff made a pledge that its program would move me, change me, and give me a new world perspective all within a ten-day period. It is inspiring to find a program that is so ambitious, refreshing to find one that meets its pledge, and incredible for me to have been part of one that infinitely exceeded in attaining its goals. Once in a lifetime does not begin to describe my experience, nor the praise that the David Project staff deserves for their efforts in showing us this country and intentionally fostering the relationships this journey created.

from Brian Atwater, International Relations Club, Greek Community:

The David Project’s Israel Uncovered trip was a truly life changing experience for both myself and everyone involved. The most powerful activity we were exposed to, in my opinion, was a trip to the Israeli border with the supposed war-Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 10.14.39torn disaster site of Gaza. However, no missiles were fired at our group, nor was gun fire heard in the distance. Instead, we observed a peaceful scenery, painted with farmland and skyscrapers. I was in total awe to be standing in one of the most talked about parts of world and to witness it with my own eyes. The emotions I felt there and the knowledge I gained about the facts on the ground opened my eyes like never before. My experience there pushed me to dig deeper than CNN or NBC before forming my opinions on all global affairs, and I urge all UMass students to do the same.

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Having returned to UMass after this incredible trip, I am confident in saying our journey of uncovering Israel is just beginning. From the memories we made to the facts and connections we created, we have so much to share with the campus community. Each one of us has a narrative now, a story to share, and a tangible connection to the state of Israel and I urge you to ask them about it, because the most beautiful part about this whole trip, is that no two students have the same narrative.

Carly Korman is a junior at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a specialization in Developmental Disabilities and Human Services. She is a sister of Alpha Epsilon Phi Sorority as well as the Vice President of the Student Alliance for Israel (SAFI).