Updated: Nov 16, 2022
Naomi Parr, JYCM College Fellow, University of Michigan
Today was enlightening, meaningful, and packed with fun activities. We woke up with the sun in our beautiful desert camping ground. We hardly had time to wipe the sleep from our eyes before we were awoken by a flurry of sand kicked up around us as we attempted to “sand surf” down the dunes. Energized by our sandy tumbles, we proceeded to get ready for the day. After a delicious breakfast, we headed out to see the Nitzana village. Because we’ve been traveling with a group of representatives from Nitzana, it was meaningful to finally get a sense of their home, goals, and values. We visited a class in their educational facility and learned about their high school programming. Just as we have bonded with our fellow Nitzana travelers, we got to bond with their rescue animals too, as they showed us around their animal sanctuary. Next, I found the opportunity to see a Bedouin village and elementary school especially profound. Never would I have imagined getting to experience another culture so closely. As representatives from the village told us about their society and connections to climate change, we were sidetracked by the singing of elementary kids having fun outside. It was an incredibly immersive way to experience a culture I knew so little about beforehand. Other highlights of the day included an inside look at Israel’s solar energy system, learning about water usage in the Negev desert, and experiencing the Gaza Strip/Israel border. Though these learning opportunities broadened my perception of Israeli culture and climate, it was a minuscule midday moment that was the most heartwarming to me. Between the densely packed schedule, a bus carried us to each succeeding event. This quickly became an important space for processing the thought-provoking content we witnessed throughout the busy day. Yet, when our discussions lulled, it was song, rather than sleep despite our tiring schedule, that filled break time. We sang together, inventing our own lyrics and spilling each other’s laughter. While the day was dense with learning, this spontaneous expression of community offered its own form of activism. This wholesome moment was a culmination of what it means to welcome new experiences as a community.