As the excavation and our stay on the Kibbutz finally come to an end, it is fascinating to reflect on the memories of this experience and just how far we have come on this trip. It is really hard to gage exactly what it is like to be on an excavation without physically doing it, but I’ll do my best to explain it. When you first imagine what the excavation looks like your mind may wander to the Indiana Jones movies. That is nowhere near what an excavation is like.

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            What you are really doing on an excavation is digging, cleaning, and observing. In the process dust is flying in your eyes, dirt is going up your nose, your back aches along with various other body parts and by the time you’re done you are so dirty it looks like you came out of a war zone. Just imagine action movies with the heroes walking away from the destruction of whatever conflict they were just in. That is what we look like every day after working. Then later that day you get a little dirty again washing pottery. It is pretty tiring and some days you just can’t wait until it ends.

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            Despite this though, when you look back at what you did, you see something special. You see the past being revealed right before your eyes every day and you realize that you were a part of uncovering the history of our shared human experience. You also can pat yourself on the back knowing you had the mental toughness to get up at the ungodly hour of 4:30 everyday to do this. The last big thing you get out of an excavation is the bond you develop with the people there.

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            When most of us came to this project, we did not really know each other at all. After just four weeks though, we were almost like a family. This is partly because of  working with each other on a daily basis, but also due to the atmosphere of the project. The big role players in developing this relationship were the directors and supervisors. Because this is not a stereotypical classroom setting, it is much more personal, allowing people to get to know the instructors to the point where everyone even jokingly pokes fun at each other. It is this comfortableness and setting that truly allow learning to the fullest extent. What better way to learn something, than by doing it and having an approachable person that you know on a meaningful level being there to guide you?

At the end of the day you may want or not want to become an archaeologist, or even want to excavate ever again, but what you do understand is the significance of the work, the value of the experience. And, looking back, maybe you ‘ll even feel the nostalgia for the moments you once spent excavating, moments that sucked at times due to fatigue, but were always worth it for the memories that will stick with you for a lifetime.

Fears VS Reality (What it is really like to be in Israel)

            As outsiders, when you initially think of Israel, you think of a region torn by conflict. In the news media all you hear about are the problems Israel faces with terrorist organizations or controversies over settlements. For example, these recent news headlines reflect the common thoughts regarding the situation of modern Israel: “Israel and Palestine conflict forecasts” (The Economist, 6/12/15), “Israelis take on rebuilding Gaza” (CNN, 6/1/15), and “Israeli Report Backs Tactics by Military in Gaza War” (New York Times, 6/11/15). When you see these headlines, the place seems like it’s in constant chaos. Direct observation, though, paints a more accurate picture.


            In reality, Israel is a place where most people are living healthy, normal lives in peace. You see families having barbeques and hear the sound of joyous children playing in the background.  If you were to be dropped into the city of Kiryat Shmona you would have no idea there were any problems in Israel. It is just like any small city in the America with malls, flea markets, and a steady flow of traffic. Lots of people just living regular lives.


            This is not to say the problems in Israel are not newsworthy, just that we too often build perceptions based on what we hear in the news. Because their lives unfold out of sight of the cameras, we do not take into account the daily experiences of normal Israelis. Contemporary media culture seeks drama, and anything less is clearly not a newsworthy topic. Of course, crises really are newsworthy, often because of the effect they may have around the world.  Still, living here provides a richer perspective.


            Just because a place in the world has problems does not mean it is an out of control war zone. I know from experience with foreigners that America is often perceived to be like the craziness in the movies shown in Hollywood. This is of course not very accurate. Needless to say, there are some very notable problems here in Israel, but there are lots of peace and happiness too. I have had an amazing time in Israel, thus far. It is one of the most beautiful countries you can visit, with a vibrant culture, and most of all wonderful people.