Hi! My name is Erik, a student at Carnegie Mellon, but hailing from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It has been an incredible time in Israel so far! We have already learned about historic Israeli figures like David Ben-Gurion and Yitzhak Rabin, experienced Shabbat in Tel-Aviv, dipped our toes in the Mediterranean, heard perspectives on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and saw a marriage proposal/dance routine (we were confused too).
The most intriguing part for me so far was a presentation from Galit Roichman, an Israeli screenwriter. She showed us clips of Israeli cinema of different flavors.
First was "Walk on Water," an "American-like" film. The protagonist exemplified a character that persists throughout Israeli film: the Sabra, a cactus flower. This symbolizes the typical Israeli: somewhat tough and defensive on the outside, but inside that, a sweet and tender core.
We also saw part of "The Band's Visit," a film about Egyptian musicians sidetracked in an Israeli town. A dinner scene showed the different roles and changing cultures between Egyptians and Israelis, and also between men and women. In the one scene we watched, the kinds of differences that all converge and converse here were highlighted. The film also opened up a conversation about the bluntness, and community-minded Israeli culture.
The final showing was from an Israeli TV show, Arab Labor, with a comical misunderstanding between Arabs and an Israeli who thought he was being kidnapped when they let him use the bathroom.
All in all, Roichman gave illuminating commentary between each clip. She talked about tension between the guarded "We" and the vulnerable "I," the central conflict of Israel. She discussed the symbol of the Fiddler on the Roof; the Jewish people carefully balancing within the world's movements and holding true to their culture. She sees the movement of Israel towards a sort of orchestra on the ground; firm-footed and sounding their culture, tradition, and national identity to the world.
A great experience. One of many so far. Looking forward to what the rest of the trip will bring.
Erik Pintar is a junior at Carnegie Mellon University, studying Electrical and Computer Engineering. He is passionate about changing education through online courses and revolutionary integrations between technology and the classroom. Erik serves as a Resident Assistant at CMU for his second year and is a men’s leader in NewLife Christian Fellowship. His hobbies include playing piano, film-making, and teaching Sign Language.