A mid-summer update from Christine

A mid-summer update from Christine

An update today from rising second-year MALD student Christine, back recently from the annual Israel Trek:

Fletcher Israel Trek groupHello everyone! It is hard to believe that the summer is already halfway through. I hope you all have been enjoying time with your family and friends, and staying cool in this heat! I have been blessed this year with a busy summer thanks to the incredible opportunities available to us as Fletcher students. I want to share with you about one opportunity in particular I had this summer that has had a huge impact on me and my Fletcher experience: a nine-day peer-led educational trip to Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

In March, all current Fletcher students received an email with an invitation to apply for The Fletcher Israel Trek. Per the application, the aim was to “introduce students to Israel and Palestinian territories, and the range of voices and perspectives within it.” When I received the invitation to apply, I was nearing the end of a yearlong internship with the International Legal Foundation (ILF). I had been focusing on ILF’s work concerning the decriminalization of poverty in Palestine, and I had spent a lot of my time researching the area; however, I had come to realize how difficult it is to fully understand the nuances of the conflict. Here was my opportunity to gain a deeper understanding – I had to take it.

During the nine days we traveled to Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, Ramallah, and Bethlehem. We were exposed to the history of the area, engaged with a full spectrum of political leaders, and examined and discussed the implications of religion in democracy. We met with industry experts, activists, human rights defenders, and policymakers. We were challenged by speakers, and by each other, to dig deeper in our understanding. I learned more in those nine days by experiencing and listening, than I had in a year of researching. It was an immensely difficult experience, but equally powerful and enriching. While I was able to learn a lot, I still left with more questions than answers.

I owe a lot of what I was able to learn to the incredibly thoughtful trip leaders who took it upon themselves to open our eyes to realities on the ground. The leaders of the trip were four of my fellow Fletcher peers, each of whom took an incredible amount of care in planning an itinerary that would give us the best possible understanding of the conflict. I also must applaud them on their lack of agenda. They didn’t try to influence us, only give us an experience that was as well rounded and thorough as possible, and let us develop our own opinions. Ultimately, I believe that is what Fletcher is all about: challenging us to look at the incredibly complex world and try to decipher our own understanding. I am truly thankful for this experience, and for Fletcher for fostering an environment in which these opportunities exist for their students. My hope for any of you who are considering Fletcher, or those who are preparing to enter your first year in August, is that you allow yourself to stay open to the opportunities available to you. The experiences you can have during your time at Fletcher are, frankly, ones that will impact you for a lifetime.