Sunday, July 13, 2014

Closing Statements

It's impossible to wrap my head around the fact that in 24 hours I will be on a plane home to San Diego. I obviously don't want to leave this beautiful place, even as it erupts into conflict and violence. Israel has truly become my second home over the last 3 weeks, as cliche as that sounds. I got much more out of this trip than I expected to. I expected to learn academically, to gain intellectual experience and knowledge about Israel. I definitely did not expect to gain new perspectives about life and about what matters to me, or to make the friendships and relationships with people that I did. I come from a superficial place. Southern California is all about being the best, physically, academically-- you need to compete with other people. It's about the image you project to the world, not the substance behind it. It was a completely new experience to come to a place and not do anything to try and prove myself to others, and have people love and accept me regardless. Being here has taught me about appreciation and love. It's taught me how to appreciate air conditioning and how to be annoyed about bug bites but not let small things like that ruin your day. It's also taught me to appreciate the beautiful friendships I've made here, instead of be extremely sad that the situation that created the friendships is ending.

During our last activity it hit me that I will never be in the same room with the same people ever again. I have no doubt that I will see some of the people on the trip again, but never all together in the same circumstances. It's a sad feeling, but at the same time I'm learning to adapt to the situations. If there's one thing I've learned from this trip is that outside circumstances do not have to dictate your internal experience. I can take the friendships and personal revelations out of this trip and back to California with me. Some of the revelations are specific to Israel, but their messages are universal.

I send my best wishes, love, and prayers to all the Israelis and my fellow Jews who are here during this time of conflict. I know I have had a truly unique experience here, watching both my groups' dynamic and the national dynamic grow, change, and explode over the course of three weeks. It's a trip that has left it's mark on my heart and soul.

- Lily Greenberg Call, 16, San Diego

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