DENVER— Master’s students from the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies recently returned from a two-week multi-perspective journey through Israel and the West Bank. The trip was organized and sponsored by the Center for Middle East Studies and was made possible by GPD Charitable Trust and a well-known Denver-based surgeon.
During the trip, students engaged with activists, government officials, educators, UN observers, NGOs, and many more to better understand the complexity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Just as important, the students were able to experience daily life in Israel and the West Bank, and spoke to families regularly impacted by violence and occupation. There were also plenty of inspiring moments, as students met with Israelis and Palestinians working together to protect environmental resources, Palestinians working toward peace through agriculture, and educators at Arab-Jewish bilingual schools.
The trip was led by Mejdi Tours, based in Jerusalem, which offers a multi-narrative experience to visitors. The tour was led by both Israeli and Palestinian guides, who provided thorough histories of the country and fostered an inclusive environment of thoughtful dialogue and reflection. Professor Micheline Ishay served as the faculty leader of the trip.
“My hope for the trip was not to have students return home feeling as though they’ve ‘figured out’ the conflict,” said Gina Jannone, program manager of CMES. “The hope was to allow students to better understand just how complex the situation is and the many narratives that form the history of this tiny country. I believe these students will keep asking questions, and will continue to engage with each other and their connections in Israel and the West Bank for some time.”
Founder and Executive Director, John DeBlasio said: “Having worked and lived in the Middle East for 10 years, I was inspired to develop academic centers that focus on the potential for positive change in the Middle East. This program brings students into the heart of what it means to influence social, cultural, and political developments in the Middle East region.”Background: The first institution of its kind in Colorado, the University of Denver’s Center for Middle East Studies (CMES) is dedicated to promoting and strengthening the study and understanding of the societies, political systems, and international relations of the Middle East and broader Islamic world, both at DU and throughout the Mountain West. Housed within the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, the Center seeks to generate scholarly research and foster public understanding of this critical and changing part of the world.