In November of 2009, I traveled with the American Israel Friendship League to Israel, where we spent nearly three weeks learning about the people, the land, the history, and the daily lives of Israelis. This experience began when the Israeli students, which we were going to host, arrived. They began their tour of America in our home cities, then after a week, both we and the Israelis went to New York City, where we saw the many tall and elaborate structures. At first, they considered it to resemble Tel Aviv, the largest city in Israel, but after we found our hotel and took a walk towards the center of New York City, they quickly changed their minds. In New York, we found many different types of people doing many different things such as beat-boxing with paint buckets, “magicians” doing their “magic”, sales pitches of how one man’s gold necklace is so much better than that of his neighbor’s, and free refills on soda. Interestingly enough, it was the free refills that caught the attention of my Israeli friends, because apparently, in Israel, one will not find “free refills” to be a common thing. Their surprise was astonishing. After spending time in New York we continued our travel to Israel, where we would stay for three weeks before returning home to the United States.
During our time in Israel, we spent much of our time visiting other cities and famous ruins such as Akko, Masada, and the Dead Sea. One visit which was of particular note was that of our travel into Nazareth. We, often as a large group, were allowed to break into smaller groups and to explore within a certain area such as in the local markets. Here, we were allowed to buy from and interact with the local people who spoke mostly Arabic in Nazareth. In the “Sooks” or markets, we quickly learned the importance of nonverbal communication as the majority of those who were with us did not speak Arabic, and the majority of the shopkeepers did not speak English. Communication came from simple hand motions to elaborate dance like displays, usually rooted from frustration, which generally brought about a small crowd consisting of English, Arabic, and Hebrew speaking people all trying to interpret the dance. Very often these became quite hysterical, but also, proved to be positive learning experiences as we each individually found out what did and what did not work.
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