• Alexandria Reichenbach ’16, a digital multimedia–broadcasting major from McAlisterville, Pa., prepares logs for construction of a Hogan, the traditional home of the Navajo, during the Navajo Nation trip this past summer.

October 01, 2015

Susquehanna students will travel to vastly different corners of the world this winter on two of the university’s newest Global Opportunities (GO) programs. Students will usher in 2016 with cultural immersions in Israel and Puerto Rico.

For GO Jerusalem: Interfaith Encounters, students will spend Jan. 1-16 in the Old City of Jerusalem. While there, they will meet, study, pray and socialize with Jewish, Muslim, Christian and other religious organizations, and engage in community service work with the groups. In addition to living in the Old City, students will stay in a traditional kibbutz in Galilee and travel to Tel Aviv.

“Our encounters will help students develop an understanding of the fundamental challenges and opportunities of interfaith engagement, and the importance of tolerance and respect for divergent views,” says Scott Kershner, program director and Susquehanna University chaplain.

To ensure the safety of all participants, special attention will be paid to the security situation on the ground as the trip progresses. The program is expected to include

  • A meeting with the Parents Circle, a support group for Jewish and Arab Israelis who have lost loved ones in the ongoing conflict.
  • In-depth exploration of the Muslim, Jewish and Christian quarters of the Old City.
  • A tour of Jaffa, led by a Jewish and an Arab resident, each speaking from his or her own cultural perspective.
  • A day of learning at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Education Center, including a meeting with a Holocaust survivor and a Muslim family who helped protect Jews during World War II.

The second trip, Service and Culture in Puerto Rico, will run on nearly the same timeline, Jan. 1-15. Led by Michaeline Shuman, assistant provost of post-graduate outcomes and director of the Career Development Center, the service-learning program will focus on topics such as land rights, environmental justice, Puerto Rico-U.S. relations, social change and international development.

Students will explore the culture through field trips and events throughout the island. They’ll meet with local community leaders, and volunteer 30-plus hours of service to local organizations working on the front line of community development. Field trips will include visits to the famous San Sebastian Street Festival in Old San Juan and the historic island of Culebra, and a series of hikes through El Yunque National Forest.

To offer students as many meaningful immersion experiences as possible, the Office of Cross-Cultural Programs continuously adds new program choices. New for students this past summer was Exploration and Understanding of the Navajo Nation.

Students spent June 5-21 working with individuals and community organizations in the southwest United States. They explored the cultural and historic traditions of the Navajo community while gaining insight into the reality of contemporary life on the reservation.

Like all GO programs, these trips serve as prerequisites for a post-travel reflection course, during which students explore how the experience informed their view of the world and themselves. Completion of the credit-bearing course fulfills the cross-cultural requirement of the university’s Central Curriculum. Future programs under consideration include study trips to Iceland, Italy and Turkey.