Dana Drage, University of Cincinnati
I've never really had to think about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I was raised in a Christian home in Northern Ohio and even when I got to college, I never really was forced to confront the situation at all. People would mention it in passing or talk about the things they saw on the news, but I'd nod and smile and pretend to have an opinion if necessary. That's a really scary way to live life; to be completely honest, it's an unacceptable way to live life.
When I heard about the opportunity to go to Israel with the David Project and see these things for myself, I was a strange mix of excited and scared and confused. Upon my return, I am still all of these things... but in a very, very different way. In addition, I also have hope, which is something I didn't expect to gain. I saw 40 very Type-A crazy campus leaders (many of which will lead our world one day) in harmony and having difficult discussions that many people twice and three-times our age are unable to have out of fear. I learned that the solution to peace is not really a solution at all, but rather a process, similar to the process of the trip itself.
The opportunity to unpack the conflict is one of the most amazing gifts I've ever been given, and will not be something I soon forget or become passive about. Not only that, I will never again live life nodding and smiling while I pretend to understand things. The David Project inspired me to be able to dig in, get my hands dirty, and to form my own opinions on everything the world throws our way... and for that, I'm forever grateful.