18 EMIS students ventured to the north of Israel for three days to stay at a campsight called Shaar L’adam (in Hebrew meaning gateway for people). Shaar L’adam is situated on a Kibbutz that is comprised primarily of Jews amongst a myriad of Arab villages. The initiators desired to bring together Jewish youth from Kibbutz Harduf and the Arab youth from the surrounding villages, in efforts to get to know each other and overcome pre-conceived notions. While talking with the two initiators, they told us they wanted to “embrace peace in action, instead of just talking about it.” This is congruent with the efforts taken at EMIS that aspire for peace in the Middle East, as by studying and living together, making friends from around the world, we are embracing peace in action. Through these three days in the serene north of Israel, we had the opportunity to learn about peace and sustainability, about ourselves, and about each other.

We spent our first day exploring in the woods, trailblazing our own path, getting lost and then finding our way back, enjoying each other’s company, feeling the unrestricted nature air, and attempting to take pictures of the beautiful scenery. It felt really liberating exploring unchartered territory, compared to the Kfar where, although we can explore, we are familiar with it already.

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The second day, we took a group hike to Nahal Tzipori (in Hebrew, meaning Bird River). We had loads of fun splashing around in the spring. The water felt rejuvenating after walking in the sweltering sun for quite a while. After the spring we continued our hike, ended up in a pomegranate field, and while nibbling on our sweet and sour fruit, before we knew it we arrived at a peculiar old mill house along the river. We had our picnic lunch on the adjacent grass; and many of us napped, explored the area around, or splashed around in the river.

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Photo credit to Gebri Mishtaku

On the last day, we had the chance to indulge in the aspect of the trip revolved around sustainability. We walked to a nearby botanical garden, that we soon learned was replenished by sewage water from the Kibbutz. I was amazed at how beautiful and lush this garden was, coming from sewage water!

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We had our last picnic together at the botanical oasis, and said our final goodbyes after an incredible three days together. It felt a little sad knowing that we would never be this specific group of people again. Nevertheless, we had an incredible time  learning about peace and sustainability, and experiencing the occasion of the open forest that is waiting to be discovered.

Written by Hannah Cook

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