Hello, friends! It’s been a while, apologies for my radio silence over the past month. Things have been crazy. Since you last heard from yours truly, I have finished my first year of classes at HBS, taken exams, packed up my apartment, jaunted all over Israel, spent some quality time in North Carolina with the fam, moved up to Washington, DC, and started my internship at a fabulous start-up. Whew!
I can’t wait to tell you more about my summer internship at The Shirt, but before I do that I want to give you a peek into my recent travels in the Middle East. I spent ten glorious days in Israel with a group of HBS folk, and it was absolutely amazing.
The trip was organized and led by a group of Israeli students, and was possibly one of the coolest experiences of my life. We learned a ton, had a ridiculous amount of fun, and had incredible access to important political, business, and military leaders who were eager to share their views with our group.
It was top notch all the way, but – then again – I have come to expect nothing less from anything and everything associated with HBS. These people do it right!
Those of you who have followed me for a while now know that I am a fan of top ten lists, so you won’t be surprised that I have created a “Top Ten of Israel” in an effort to convey all of the awesome-ness of this trip to you. So, without further ado…
1. Tel Aviv
Ahhh Tel Aviv, such an amazing place. It is a glorious party town right on the Mediterranean with a very modern and optimistic kind of vibe. The people were cool, the bars were bumpin’, and the food was absolutely delicious. I would highly recommend stopping by Tel Aviv if you find yourself in that neck of the woods at any point. It’s a blast!
2. Avicii Concert!
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Avicii, he is a kick ass Swedish DJ. Anyway, the stars aligned for us and Avicii was playing in Tel Aviv while our crew was in town! We had a glorious time noodling to his beats, though I think I permanently lost like 10% of my hearing…
3. Chillin’ with some Camels
No trip to the Middle East is complete without an intimate encounter with a camel’s hump! I’m happy to report that I had the opportunity to get up close and personal with my very own dromedary while in the Negev Desert. Not necessarily the most comfortable form of transportation, but at least they get good mileage!
Ahhh holy, holy Jerusalem. Walking through the Old City was like a flashback to all of my Sunday school classes. There is just so much history there. In the span of one day I saw where Jesus was born, where he ate the Last Supper, where he was betrayed, where he was crucified, and where he was resurrected. Talk about a heavy day! I learned a lot about Christian, Jewish, and Muslim traditions while literally standing on ground zero of modern religion. Amazing!
The Old City
5. Bethlehem and the West Bank
One of the most impactful experiences I had in Israel was crossing the Israeli border into the West Bank, which is Palestinian territory. As you’ll see in the pictures below, there is a huge wall built between the two and you must cross through an official check point to enter and exit.
I went into the West Bank to visit Bethlehem and see the Church of the Nativity (where Jesus was born and put into the manger).
Graffiti on the Wall
Inside the Church of the Nativity, Where the Manger Was
In addition to being an important religious site, Bethlehem is also home to the “Stars & Bucks” coffee shop. Vaguely reminds me of another coffee shop chain I know…
6. Rave in the Desert
Question: What do you get when you combine a huge group of rowdy HBS students, the Israeli desert, a thousand glow sticks, several buckets of glow-in-the-dark body paint, a full moon, and a kick ass DJ? You get a RAVE IN THE DESERT, that’s what!
Honestly, words cannot even describe this absolutely ridiculous night, so I’m not even going to try. Just know that it was aaamazing.
7. Masada and the Desert
Israel has tons of desert. I mean tons. As a result, we spent a lot of time, well, cruising around the desert! It was awesome – I love me some arid landscape.
8. Checking out the Air Force
One huge perk of traveling in Israel with our Israeli friends was that we had ridiculous access to really important people. For example – the second in command of the Tel Aviv Air Force personally gave us a tour of the base, described Israel’s air defense strategy, shared his personal views on Israel’s conflict with Palestine and other Middle Eastern countries, and took us out to the runway to see F-16s taking off! Amazing.
9. Floating in the Dead Sea
The Dead Sea was a crazy experience – it is the lowest body of water in the world, and is freakishly salty. The salt results in insane levels of buoyancy – you literally cannot sink. There are tons of other great minerals in the water, and we soaked it all in during our afternoon there. Cross that one off the bucket list!
10. Visiting a Kibbutz
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the concept of a “Kibbutz”, don’t worry – I had no idea what one was until I got to Israel. Basically, a kibbutz is a commune where families live together and share resources equally. They were set up all over Israel shortly after the country was established, and each community was tasked with producing one particular good in an effort to put the new country on a path toward self-sufficiency. As Israel has trasitioned to a market economy, many of the kibbutzes are defunct, but some of them were really successful and continue to this day. We visited NaanDanJain, a kibbutz specializing in irrigation technology.
Keep checking back, there’s more to come from me!