Everyone should get a once in a lifetime chance to do something. Israel was my chance. I had signed up to go to a free trip to Israel with ADL and was chosen. On April 1, 9 other students from Colorado and I jumped on a Continental Airlines and took off. We stopped in Newark and joined 10 kids from Omaha, Nebraska and then boarded our second flight. When we finally landed in Israel, we had been on a plane for about 14 hours and the Omaha kids had somehow lost their luggage, but that didn’t stop any of our excitement at being out of the country into the opposite side of the world.
There was no one thing about each day I could highlight, we were so busy and everything we did was amazing and new; jet lag was not a concept for us. We met high school students at the Experimental School. This school was interesting in that they had no grades and no tests, and they chose their peers and teachers. Our entire group was amazed at this system, wondering both how it worked and if the US could integrate this system.
Afterwards, we took a toured the Old City with our tour guide for the week, Yoni Ben-Tsedef. We learned about Via Dolorosa and feasted on falafels, pita bread, and hummus bought from a street vendor on the roof of a building overlooking the entire city. We took an underground Western Wall tour and learned everything we could about the Western Wall, by the time we got back to the hotel, it was 2am and we were exhausted; this was just day 1.
The Yad VaShem holocaust museum was the really the reason for our visit, we spent the entire next day there and even that wasn’t enough time. While it wasn’t a normal place to visit for first time tourists, I knew that I would be willing to go back to Israel just to visit that museum again. We met Marianne Gerstenfeld, a holocaust survivor who told us her story. It was there that we really learned about how simple words and hate can bring about the death of millions.
In the next three days, we traveled almost all of Israel. We had our own tour bus for the week, it was our second home. We traveled to the Dead Sea, floated about, stacked mud on ourselves and learned about the geography of Israel. We traveled to the Golan Heights, including the old Syrian Bunker and learned about the conflict of Israel. We traveled to Nazareth and learned about the religious background of Israel. We went to a Druze community and learned about the diversity of Israel. We finally arrived at Tel Aviv and learned about how to shop and bargain in Israel.
While we had taken advantage of practically everything Israel had to offer, it still didn’t feel like enough. Our trip was fun to say the least, we learned everything we could about Israel, but it wasn’t hard; it was interesting. Through meeting with other high school students, we learned that despite a few differences, even students around the world weren’t really that different from us. This was my once in a lifetime experience, and I knew that even if I traveled back to Israel I would not be able to do the same things or meet the same people as I did with ADL. My memories are my most valuable possessions and, while I’ve traveled to many different places, this trip was something different that would be stored in my mind forever.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.