Photo credit to holylandpilgrims.wordpress.com
One Student's Experiences in the Holy Land
Scholastica student David Martin travelled to his homeland of Israel in December of 2012 to reconnect with his family and roots. Born in a small town on the Sea of Galilee, Martin grew up in Alaska until age 18, when he returned to Israel for a time. Martin has become frustrated with Israel's frequently negative representation in the U.S.
"The biggest problem is the school does not recognize my Israeli citizenship," Martin said. "I don't believe having an all inclusive diversity policy allows you to deny the existence of any country or race of people." Recently, Martin spoke out about his most recent experiences in Israel to dispel some of the negativity he has encountered.
When he arrived, he discovered that he had arrived as elections for the Israeli governments Prime Minister drew near. "Election fever was all over the country,'' he recalled. Later in his trip, he witnessed the fervor for democracy when a politician running for office walked past him in the streets of Tel Aviv. "People were everywhere yelling on mega phones and playing music supporting various political parties for the upcoming elections. It all was a little over the top, but I was glad I was in a country that embraced democratic process so much."
Martin spent much of the trip visiting long-separated friends and family and re-orienting himself in an Israel much changed from what he had left ten years ago. From the moment he touched down in the airport, he noticed how different things looked. "I could not recognize the terminal, it had changed so much from when I had last left. I was glad someone knew I was there. "
Martin had the same experience in Tel Aviv, commenting that it looked more like Dubai than it did his memory. He lamented that many of the places he used to visit were no longer there. He also mentioned a very positive change in the country's bureaucracy. When he discovered that he needed to renew his passport while there, he dreaded the difficulty that would be involved in getting it short notice. "I remembered all the chaos it was to get any government paperwork filled." However, he discovered that this time, renewing his passport was an easy and quick process.
After two weeks in Israel, Martin was ready to return to Duluth. Though he was initially unsure if he would be returning to St. Scholastica, his family ultimately convinced him to continue. He registered over the phone from Israel.
"The trip back to Israel had answered a lot of questions about my identity as an American and an Israeli. " Martin said. "Most people have very little knowledge of Israel, besides what they learn in the classroom and on the news, which can often be unfair and biased." Martin hopes that by sharing his positive experiences, a more accurate picture of the country can be seen.