When I arrived in Tel Aviv in October, I thought the following three months would play out like this: classes, internship, research, some new casual friends, and an anecdote or two about what I would be studying – “conflict in the Middle East.” It seemed like a typical semester abroad. But that’s not what I wanted from my time here. I wanted a deeper connection with this place, a more nuanced understanding of what ails it, and an intimate group of peers to inform my travel and studies. Perhaps more than all of that, I wanted to really get to the heart of my research on sports for peacebuilding. I wanted to see firsthand whether and how all the things I’d been reading about play out in real life and in such an intense place.
Ultimate Peace brought all of that together. I started coaching during my second week in Tel Aviv and it quickly became my main purpose for being here. As an Ultimate player with some experience in the Middle East and in Africa, I had been watching UP for years, impressed by the progress they had made from that initial summer camp to include a year-long program and peer leadership training. I was ecstatic when I was invited to be a part of that. Continue reading
Six hours and thirteen minutes left until arrival. Or so says the screen on the airplane seat in front of me. Early this morning I left my daily world behind and in a few hours, tomorrow morning in the Middle East, I’ll be stepping foot into the world I never really left behind when I stepped on the plane to head back to Chicago last summer. I live in divided yet inextricable worlds: one of which I can never truly leave behind no matter where I am. To be completely honest, I haven’t let myself think – really, truly, deeply think – about what this summer means and what it will bring.
The truth is I can’t let my mind go there, to feel it fully, while I’m in the other world because I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to return. I don’t know that essays and term papers and finals will get done because I’ll be too caught up in thinking about experiences that have shaped my identity or will continue to influence who I become. It’s difficult to immerse myself in Victorian literature (which I love, by the way) when I’m thinking about now. What our world looks like now, and what we can do to make ourselves and our world better. Continue reading
It was early in the morning and I was at the train station in Acco, about to undertake the nearly 24-hour journey back to Chicago. A moment occurred – a moment like any other, but at the same time it proved to be so much more. It was a moment of eye contact – of mutual understanding between a local stranger and myself and it seemed to me to culminate what had been a several month whirlwind. I had spent the spring studying in London and traveled throughout the Czech Republic with my aunt for a couple weeks before arriving in Tel-Aviv and making my way to a friend’s apartment at 3:00 in the morning. Continue reading