Three students from the School of Diplomacy and International Relations were selected for the Caravan for Democracy Student Leadership Mission to Israel.
Sophomore Peter Eggerding and seniors Sophie Thon and Colm Sullivan will spend 10 days on a fully subsidized educational trip to Israel for non-Jewish student leaders who have never visited the country. The trip, over the holiday break, provides students with the opportunity to explore Israel through meetings with political, cultural and community leaders from diverse backgrounds and faiths.
Peter Eggerding: A sophomore from the School of Diplomacy and International Relations
"I've always wanted to go to Israel as I think the historical and religious significance it has makes it a very interesting and beautiful place," Eggerding said. "I am a diplomacy major, so learning more about the politics in that region is an important goal of mine." He learned of the program from diplomacy senior Mark McGuire, who attended the trip last year.
Caravan for Democracy is operated by the Jewish National Fund. The program's goal is to facilitate constructive dialogue about Israel and the Middle East on college campuses across America. Students participate in constructive dialogues with political, cultural and community leaders from diverse backgrounds and faiths such as a Palestinian journalist, Israeli government officials, an Olympic medalist and Ethiopian immigrants
Professor Naomi Wish, professor in the Department of Political Scienc and Public Affairs, introduced Caravan for Democracy to Seton Hall and said it is critical for students to form their own opinions about Israel. "Israel is in the news every day. Some people see it as ‘the only democracy in the Middle East.' Others see it as a 'Start-Up Nation,' while still others see it as an 'occupier,'" Wish said. "This all-expenses paid study tour in Israel allows student leaders to experience Israel with all of its strengths and weaknesses." Dr. Wish teaches courses on Israel and this spring will teach POLS2790 Modern Israel: Politics and Society.
Colm Sullivan sees the trip as an opportunity to build bridges through sports. Sullivan has coached youth soccer in Jewish schools for about six years, and he plays on a soccer team with players from Israel. "I am most excited to visit the town of Be'er Sheva where many of my friends from Israel are from," Sullivan said. "It is also the town where my soccer organization runs a charity soccer camp."
Sophie Thon: A senior from the School of Diplomacy and International Relations
Thon, a diplomacy major with minors in Arabic and legal studies, is looking forward to experiencing Israel firsthand. "I feel strongly that the best way to receive information is through direct experience," Thon said. "This trip presents a unique opportunity to experience Israel directly and create my own informed perspective outside the myriad of conflicting historical and media accounts."
She sees a direct link between the trip to Israel and her plans to pursue public service after graduation. "I am eager to learn firsthand about the State of Israel and especially its interactions with its Middle Eastern neighbors, as my goal for the future is to help shape America's foreign policy in the Middle East," Thon said. "I aim to visit Israel with an open mind and a consciousness of any prejudice I may carry and come away from this trip with knowledge that will help further my goals in public service."