Summer Israel excursion awaits interested students

By Josh Albrecht

A view of the pyramids of Egypt, a horseback ride to Mt. Sinai and rafting on the upper Jordan River are just a few of the opportunities NIU students can have on a trip to Israel this summer.

The trip, which will run from July 2 to Aug. 6 and gives students the opportunity to teach Arab children and youth the English language, is an NIU study abroad experience in conjunction with Illinois State University.

The Rev. Rita Root, the director and campus minister for United Campus Ministries at NIU, will be one of the trip’s leaders. While it is her first time travelling to Israel, Root has led mission trips before.

Last year, Root led a trip to Puerto Rico, and in the past she has led spring break trips with Habitat for Humanity.

Students will live with host families in the city of Nazareth during their stay, so the culture can be appreciated more. Although the trip is sponsored partly by Illinois United Ministries in Higher Education-Supported campus ministries, Root insists the trip isn’t focused on Christianity.

“We’re not just going to talk about our faith but to participate in a cultural experience,” Root said.

Students will interact with people from all three monotheistic religions in that area — Christians, Muslims and Jews.

“You can read about different cultures, but it’s nothing like experiencing them first-hand,” Root said. “It’s not like being home.”

With the recent conflicts in the Middle East, particularly in the Gaza Strip, Root said the trip’s organizers have taken precautions so students are not in danger.

“It would be foolish to travel and not worry about your safety,” Root said.

The leaders have been informed that it is safe to travel, but Root added that if the situation changes, they will eliminate certain parts of the trip and provide alternative activities.

Other trip highlights include visiting Jerusalem, the Wailing Wall, a Jewish Kibbutz and the Sea of Galilee, as well as participating in an archeological dig.

The cost of the trip is $2,700, with 20 spots available. NIU students should contact the Office of Records and Registration to see if academic credit can be earned; however, students still can attend the trip if NIU credit is not available, or they can enroll in the ISU summer session.