This past Monday a group of Israeli university students came to visit Charlottesville and speak with UVa students at the BJC. Now, university students in Israel are not like college students here. The main difference being that they are in their mid to late twenties and just getting to their undergraduate degree after leaving their mandatory IDF service. When I spoke with a few of them on the topic of the army, they shared similar sentiments that while the army is a daunting commitment at the age of 18, they understand and respect the relationship that the citizens and government share. They see their service as their way to protect the country they love, as well as show other countries how united they are.
Later, I sat down with two Israelis, Dor and Avi, for an activity that involved depicting America or Israel through the others’ eyes. Dor and Avi spoke about what they thought America meant to them, their parents, their friends and to Americans, and I did the same for Israel. They shared the typical stereotypes of college parties and big business, but they also pointed out some more interesting complexities of American culture. Seeing that they do not see every piece of American news, they focused on the bigger, controversial stories as thematic of American culture. Things like race, the two party system and safety. I went on to describe my sentiments toward Israel and how much it means to my family living in America and in Israel. Dor, Avi and I really bonded over our shared passion for Israel, and it made me remember the great times I had this winter on Birthright. Overall, I was so excited to help host this group of Israelis and I hope they come back soon!
Class of 2017