American students visit for 10-day program hosted by Anti-Defamation League

Goal of the Campus Leaders Mission to Israel is to provide students with a wide array of political viewpoints that they can take back to school.

August 18, 2013 02:14
1 minute read.
MEMBERS OF the Campus Leaders Mission to Israel tour near the Old City in Jerusalem.

Students on ADL trip in Jerusalem 370. (photo credit: Courtesy ADL)

Fifteen students from US colleges visited the country this month as part of an Anti-Defamation League-sponsored delegation dedicated to fostering understanding on American campuses of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Campus Leaders Mission to Israel, now in its 21st year, brings students with campus leadership experience to the Jewish state for an eye-opening look at the forces behind the conflict.

The goal of the 10-day trip, which ended last week, is to provide students with a wide array of political viewpoints that they can take with them when they return to school, explained Phyllis Gerably, director of ADL’s Israel office.

The delegation’s jam-packed itinerary included sampling the wares at Jerusalem’s Mahaneh Yehuda market, meeting with a group of Palestinian students, touring the new I24 News studio in Jaffa and meeting MK Boaz Toporovsky of Yesh Atid.

“This is my sixth day here and I never want to leave,” Shawn Matson, who was set to begin his senior at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, said during one of the group’s more laid-back stops at Tel Aviv’s Jerusalem Beach.

Matson, a student of political science and Jewish studies, harbors a strong affinity with Jewish culture and religion, although he is not Jewish. As a young boy, Matson was drawn to questions surrounding the Holocaust.

His dedication to combating bigotry and anti-Semitism made this ADL trip particularly appealing for him.

“I was able to see so many different areas of Israel. I think this is a great way to get a feel for the multicultural dimension of the country,” said Madison Ashley, ahead of her sophomore year as a student in culture and politics department at Georgetown University in Washington.

A strong interest in cross-cultural awareness and social justice is behind University of Pennsylvania student Joyce Kim’s participation in the Campus Leaders Mission.

Coming from a Texan town where there have been few if any Jews, Kim felt overwhelmed when she came to her school’s campus and was bombarded with the views of anti- and pro-Israel advocates alike.

“I feel like I’m seeing both narratives unfold here and I think I’m still processing it all,” Kim said on the eve of returning to Philadelphia.

The Campus Leaders Mission was funded by the Charles and Mildred Schnurmacher Foundation and the Samuel and Mildred Levine Institute.

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