I have been fascinated with the country of Israel since about the 8th grade. From having a best friend who was Jewish, participating in a leadership program for African-American and Jewish high school students, and doing an extensive project on the Arab-Israeli conflict in the 11th grade , I have literally dreamed about visiting this place. Everyone I know who has visited - no matter what race, religion, or ethnicity - has felt a connection to the country and the wonders it has to offer. So when I woke up December 31st, I was beyond excited to experience all the excitement and adventure myself!
Since I’m from Philadelphia, there wasn’t much of a hassle to get to JFK Airport. When there, I was greeted by Naomi and Mona, and started meeting the other students on the trip. After we all arrived, we went through security with El Al staff AND TSA. I didn’t realize how much security we would have to go through, but at the same time, I understood the necessity for being precautious. We went to Gate B31 and waited anxiously for our flight. The plane began to board at 10:50PM for our 11:50PM departure. Once we got on the plane, JNF surprised us with Happy New Years tiaras, party noisemakers, and beaded necklaces. When the clock struck 12 for the New Year, we all began to clap and shout, probably to the dismay of some!
The flight was about 10 hours. I slept the vast majority of it, but made sure to wake up for meals! I also spent time watching Glee on my laptop, chatting with another student on the trip, and reading some of the pre-trip literature. We arrived in Tel Aviv at around 5PM (Tel Aviv time of course). The airport was very interesting, with English, Hebrew, and Arabic written all over. After gathering all of our things, we were greeted by Leor and the rest of the crew that will travel with us during our trip. We traveled two hours north to Galilee, and are staying not far from where the Jordan River exits the Sea of Galilee. After eating a really delicious dinner, we went to our rooms, had a brief orientation, and then went to bed. We have to wake up at 6:15AM, so we need all of the sleep we can get! I cannot wait to see all the fabulous things Israel has to offer tomorrow!