Shlomo Lifshitz
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Available Only in Israel: 9 Summer College Programs

Summer is a great time for students to grow, and some of the Israel experiences for students are one of a kind
Archaeologists at work excavating the biblical city of Lachish, where an early 12th century BCE Canaanite alphabet inscription was found in 2014. (courtesy of Yossi Garfinkel, Hebrew University)
Archaeologists at work excavating the biblical city of Lachish, where an early 12th century BCE Canaanite alphabet inscription was found in 2014. (courtesy of Yossi Garfinkel, Hebrew University)

Not sure what to do this summer?

Itching to get off campus and maybe go abroad?  Looking to try something new but all you can find are zip lining or building mud huts-style “life experience” kind of trips?  Well, here are seven brand new programs that are sure to give you a different kind of summer experience and let you show your support of Israel.  They’re all going on next summer and they’re all only in Israel.

Number 1 – Become a Peacemaker

Have you ever wanted to make a difference in the world?

Did you ever feel like you could contribute to making it a safer, more peaceful place?  Being part of the solution to the world’s problems sounds like an impossible dream, but today you can learn the art of conflict resolution, applicable to identity-based conflicts at all levels, from local to global.

It’s a rare opportunity to study the intricacies of peacemaking in a graduate level program, even if you’re still an undergrad.  And where better to learn about how to manage and resolve conflicts than in Israel, where enduring strife and decades of diplomacy have given scholars and negotiators more experience than their peers anywhere else in the world?  Unique to this program is the emphasis on the role of collective memory and identity in conflict creation and resolution, an increasingly relevant factor in the conflicts of the 21st century, as well as practical internships at NGO and think-tanks.  If you’re passionate about world affairs and want to make your mark, this month-long program will make you a mediation guru, armed with the latest theoretical models and a well-developed understanding of the greatest challenges to peace today.

 Number 2 — Dive into Red Sea Marine Biology

The Red Sea is famous for a lot more than just being split by Moses.  It also happens to be one of the World’s most beautiful and diverse reef ecosystems, and as such has become a top destination for divers.  This summer you can spend two weeks exploring this remarkable underwater jungle and learning how complex underwater environments like the Gulf of Aqaba evolve and thrive.  Learn firsthand how interdependent systems are connected and sustained, from microorganisms to fish and the vast stretches of coral they inhabit, to the marine mammals and seabirds that coexist with them.  If the ocean fascinates you, then you’ve got to spend this summer under the sea.

Number 3 – Live on the Front Lines as a MDA First Responder

 There are people who crave excitement and the thrill of being in life-or-death situations, but don’t necessarily actually want to endanger themselves.  Some long instinctively for a way to fulfill an inner sense of duty and to serve and protect others, but without picking up a machine gun and joining an army.

For those who yearn to be real-life heroes, there is no better way – and nothing more real – than spending a summer volunteering as a Magen David Adom (The Israeli branch of the Red Cross) emergency first res-ponder.  It’s front-line duty for those who wish to make a difference as civilians.  The aid overseas volunteers offer is real; those in distress that they treat are very much in need; and the importance of the work these first res-ponders do is immeasurable.  If you have a passion for helping those in need and making an impact, look no further than the MDA.

 Number 4– Channel Your Inner Indiana Jones

Exploring ancient ruins.  Digging through the dirt to find long lost relics.  Travelling the world to find those far flung remnants of antiquity that capture our imagination.  That’s the premise of the Indiana Jones films and it’s a big part of what made them so appealing.  If you’re a fan of the series, chances are you’ve imagined what it would be like to excavate some ancient site tucked away out somewhere in the Middle East, a la The Last Crusade.

Well today you can get a taste of what it’s like to dig through the past with a Holy Land academic 1st archeology excavations program.  Get a hands-on experience at 2,000 year old dig sites near the Sea of Galilee dating back to the 1st century, a time when Romans occupied Judea, Jesus ministered to his followers, and rebellion consumed the land.  The course is accredited by Kinneret College in The Galilee and the digs are led by English-speaking professors of archaeology.

 Number 5 – Learn How to Heal Others with Dolphins

Cetaceans – porpoises, whales, and dolphins – are among the most intelligent creatures after humans, and in many ways, their brains closely mirror our own.  In particular dolphins, who have the highest encephalization quotient – meaning the ratio between brain mass and overall body mass – exhibit highly developed behaviors, communication – including syntax, and other signs of intelligence.  They’re also easy to interact with, and are perhaps the best suited for close study.

In this unique 10 day program you get to do just that – interact with and learn about these incredibly intelligent and social creatures up close.  No, this isn’t some touchy-feely dolphin “experience” or “encounter”.

It’s a chance to really get to understand these magnificent marine mammals, their behavior, how they interact with humans and how they can be used for therapy of behavioral issues, such as ADHD, ADD, Autism, abuse, and the like.  If you’re fascinated by animals and what to learn more about animal intelligence, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Number 6 – Master the Art of Executive Negotiations

Taught by some of the world’s most seasoned business and diplomatic negotiators and led by a veteran of Israel’s negotiating teams with Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, this week-long executive program teaches tactics and business etiquette but also the art of analyzing the person sitting across from you, probing his psychology and gaining insights into his or her motivations and modus operandi.  These valuable skills are useful not only in law, business, and diplomacy, but in everyday personal interactions.  And unique to this program is its international character.  Not only does it bring together participants from all over the world, it emphasizes the cross-cultural nature of much of today’s negotiations.  If you aspire to lead, facilitate, do business, or just understand the people around you better, this one is a must.

Number 7 – Immerse Yourself in the Languages of the Middle East

You can learn a language just about anywhere.  But if you want to really immerse yourself in it and the corresponding culture, you’ve got to travel.  And what languages and cultures are more fascinating and timelier to become acquainted with than those of the Middle East?  Arabic, Hebrew, and Farsi (Persian) are three of the big four tongues of the Middle East, and they’re all available in Israel next summer.  Delve into a new culture in the heart of the Middle East.  You’ll gain a valuable understanding of the region, the religions which sprang from it, and its central place in world affairs.

Number 8 — Study Human Rights

Join the Institute of Human Rights Law and Policy in Jerusalem. This 3 week program based in Jerusalem brings together professors and lecturers from all over the world, including the former Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) – Prof. Luis Moreno Ocampo. You’ll learn about real legal challenges in the Arab-Israeli Conflict, and different aspects of international law.

Number 9 — Hospitality and Culinary

Spend the summer months gaining practical skills and experience in hospitality, tourism and culinary arts. International students in the field can boost their academic careers at Ben Gurion University in Eilat, Red Sea’s tourist hot-spot. This almost-free program has two tracks, both which involve studying and interning in 4-5 star hotels learning some of the industry’s best practices.

With Israel’s rise in the gastronomical world, Culinary Arts students learn both contemporary and timeless skills in the preparation of Israeli, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Kosher foods.

About the Author
With over 30 years of experience, Shlomo (Momo) Lifshitz was the founder and president of Oranim Educational Initiatives, which at its peak was the largest operator of Birthright-Taglit tours. Oranim has run over 1,201 Birthright groups. After selling Oranim in 2012, Momo turned his sights to promoting educational programs to Israel, and serves as the director of Study in Israel LLC and Lirom Global Education, promoting the and brands.
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