April 01, 2017

By Angela Burrows

Susquehanna’s Global Opportunities (GO) program is aimed at giving students a broader view of the world. We live in a global economy, so from a practical standpoint, our students need exposure to different cultures. But beyond the practical, our lives are far richer when we’re open to diverse viewpoints and people different from ourselves. It’s how we grow. Despite variations in faith, race, ethnicity, language, gender identity and sexual orientation, we share a common humanity.

In January, I had the privilege of traveling to the State of Israel and the Palestinian Territories with eight Susquehanna students, University Chaplain Scott Kershner and Rabbi Nina Mandel of Congregation Beth El in nearby Sunbury, Pa., who is also an adjunct faculty member at Susquehanna. The 17-day GO Jerusalem experience is one of more than 125 options open to students, all of whom are required to study away from campus in a culture different from their own. The majority, 85-90 percent, study abroad.

It was a privilege to visit a part of the world that is so critical-a place where tensions are high, divisions deep, and the longtime quest for peace continues. It was wonderful to experience the interfaith dialogue, meet with advocacy groups, visit with Palestinian families, hear the story of a Holocaust survivor, and see the sights with a group of students who were both engaged and engaging.

Throughout the trip, I was struck by the diversity-from Israeli and Palestinian, to Reconstructionist, Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and secular Jews, to Muslims and Christians. The myriad of cultures was not unlike the multitude of colors and spices that greeted us on each trip to the “shuk,” or market.