Members of the Olive Tree Initiative will travel to the Middle East in July to learn peacemaking strategies.
Students from the San Diego State Chapter of the Olive Tree Initiative will travel to Israel and Palestine on July 21 to learn about conflict resolution.
According to the SDSU website, it is a “diverse student, faculty and community initiative promoting dialogue and understanding about conflict zones through experiential education.”
Fellowships, fundraisers and $580 from Associated Students funded the trip. Those selected were able to raise more than 80 percent of the trip’s total cost, which amounts to about $16,000.
The students will stop in Washington, D.C., where they will meet with experts from the U.S. Department of State’s Middle East Partnership Initiative and the U.S. Institute of Peace before flying abroad.
They will then spend approximately two weeks learning about Palestinian and Israeli culture by dining with families and residents, communicating with officials and community members and delving into the entertainment and nightlife.
“We’re prepared to be humbled,”said Lori Carrillo, president of SDSU's chapter of the Olive Tree Initiative.
Carrillo, a political science graduate student at SDSU, spent months preparing for the trip. She and fellow Olive Tree Initiative members studied the various cultural, religious and political nuances of the area and consulted with other members who visited the region several times.
However, the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict cannot be fully understood unless multifaceted perspectives are considered through travel, says Olive Tree Initiative public relations representative Sandy Chavez. Chavez, a political science junior, says her goal is to form a developed opinion of the conflict based on education, knowledge and immersion.
“In order to form an opinion, we need to be informed,” Chavez said.
With such knowledge, she hopes to find a peaceful solution she can share with students and the community.
This story originally appeared in The Daily Aztec, SDSU's independent student newspaper.