Israel: Israel and Brand New Ways Essay

Submitted By 53jsams
Words: 632
Pages: 3

Traveling to the Czech Republic, Poland, and Israel during the summer of 2012 has undoubtedly been a turning point in my life, a stepping stone from my adolescence to becoming an adult. I spent five ineffable weeks abroad, experiencing brand new ways of living. My travel group and I stepped off the plane after a seven hour flight and were immediately immersed in the pre-Holocaust preserved city of Prague. The Stare Mesto, the Hradcany, and Terezin, or Theresienstadt, were all contributors to the both somber and vibrant stigmas of the city. We then traveled to Krakow, Poland, and from there explored sites such as Birkenau, Auschwitz, and the Warsaw ghetto. Our visits expanded upon our understanding of the 1920s through 1940s time period, far more than any textbook or film could. The heaviest moment in Poland for me occurred during our visit Auschwitz; we gathered around a pond, which had been used to drown the ashes of those executed at the camp, and held a memorial service. The weight we felt during this commemoration is likened to the burden of growing up, taking on responsibilities, and becoming in tune with the outside world and its issues. Our undying excitement propelled us forward into the Land of Milk and Honey. Israel is approximately the size of New Jersey, and we had four weeks to trek through the entire country. Highlights of our trip included the cities of Tel Aviv, Eilat, Jerusalem, Tzippori, Tiberius, and Haifa, various kibbutzes, and excursions through the Negev (desert) and the Galilee. The sheer number of places we were able to visit, and the activities that we took part in from seven a.m. to ten p.m. each day contributed to the overall feeling of exhausted satisfaction and gratitude. Rolling in sand dunes, snorkeling with fish and coral, participating in an archaeological dig, and hiking in the Golan Heights all kept us entranced with Israeli culture and history. We visited the Kotel, Bedouin campgrounds, Masada, and Yad Vashem, which led us to feel we were partaking in the world, not just watching it go by. The contemporary meshing with the traditional, and the different religions and cultures interlocked with one another, gave me a holistically new outlook on coexistence being achieved. We witnessed firsthand the Syrian civil war, standing near the border with UN officials. Hearing and seeing the gunfire, my perception of how the rest of the world's affairs affect us grew. Perhaps the memory that is ingrained in