On March 19th, 2017, I went with Visions Of Peace, a group of twenty-four Tufts University students, to Israel to study about the on-going conflict between the Arabs and Jews in the Israeli-Palestinian territories. Personally, I did not have a complete understanding of the conflict prior the trip, and I am now even more eager to learn more after the trip. I had done some research before we left, but it did not help as much as hearing from the people living a life of fear due to everyday killings on both sides, Palestine and Israel.
We visited different organizations such as Arab Jewish Community Center, Hand in Hand (one of the only bilingual, bicultural schools in Israel), Jerusalem Youth Chorus at the YMCA (consists of both Israeli and Arab teenagers) and many others which are trying to build peace between the Arabs and Israelis. It is hard to teach adults about reconciliation because they have had the ideology of discrimination all their life. That is why different organizations are targeting the youth to change their views about the conflict so that there may be a brighter future for both Palestinians and Israelis.
Different solutions have been proposed for the conflict such as one-state solution (having a single nation, Israel, with equal rights of Israelis and Palestinians) or two-state solution (having two independent states, Palestine and Israel). The government of Israel has not come to a consensus of what solution should be implemented because the conflict is really complicated.
After spending a week in Israel, I still do not have an idea which solution I would vote for if I had to. All I want is to see the human kind leave the stereotypes, the differences, and focus on the similarities and what brings them together, hence allowing peace to have its way in the world.
I had an amazing and memorable first winter break in the United States. I stayed in San Francisco for five weeks. The greatest thing was that I was able to stay with all my five mentors, one by one. Spending time with each family was really blessing because their love and warmth made it feel like I was home, while I also had the opportunity to experience different lifestyles and try new activities.
With Kristin, Bob and his family, I was able to celebrate my first white Christmas ever at Bend, Oregon. It was my first time to see a huge pile of snow (which had been my childhood dream), to make a snowman and to go skiing.
Skiing is not an easy thing to do. For the first time, you have to fall and get up to go ahead. It is not different from life that once you get to do something out of your comfort zone, you may face obstacles and failures, but you need to give yourself more chance to get up and give it another try.
Other memorable moments for me with Kristin and the family were gift unwrapping, singing all the Christmas songs, playing trivia, and listening to Hamilton soundtrack. Listening to Hamilton was our favorite activity and we could learn more about American history.
The trip was truly unforgettable and I could not have asked for more fun than the trip to Bend.
Staying with Cynthia was also filled with love, caring and learning. Unforgettably, we cooked Asian food together (because the family and I all love the food) and the last day with her we went to some Asian restaurants, which I loved!
Even though we didn't get to do many outdoor things, we spent time watching movies about the World History in the twentieth-century, which was a fun way to learn more about history.
Similarly, staying with Michelle and Reiner was a lot of fun. They took me to Safari West in Sonoma County.
The most exciting thing was that I got to see GIRAFFES, which are one of my favorite animals. Never in my life had I seen real giraffes.
I'm so grateful for this because when I went to the California Academy of Science earlier that year, I saw giraffe models and I was imaging if one day I could see giraffes in real life.
Ultimately, Michelle made my dreams come true!
With Libby, I got a chance to go to a Cambodian restaurant and ice-skating!
I also watched movies as well and, by that time in my trip, I had a growing list of favorite movies. Since then, I have entertained myself by finding new favorite movies to add to my list.
I also had fun staying with Paula, where she helped to teach me more about guitar!
After living with each of them, I came to realize that they all have different ways of living, yet they all have the same kind hearts.
Besides having fun, I also had a chance to be a part of leadership training, organized by SHE-CAN. The training was so helpful that I could learn about the effective leadership skills. It opened a door for me to deeply explore my own self, develop my potentials and skills, as well as inspire me to become a leader.
I am so thankful to SHE-CAN team and sisters and that I could experience these incredible things in my life.
Finally, I would love to thank my mentor team for their warm welcoming and caring.
Without their kind hearts, I would not be able to have this memorable time and of course, could not tell this story.
Read stories written by our talented scholars and multiple voices across the SHE-CAN network