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will be run next time Spring 2017

Your home for spring semester will be the Middle East. We will study and explore the culture, traditions, religions, politics and history of the region, with a home base in the ancient and conflicted city of Jerusalem. In addition to field trips in the Jerusalem area, we will spend substantial time exploring the rest of Israel and the West Bank (Palestine), as well as Jordan and, hopefully, Egypt. Learning will include classroom lectures, field trips and many site visits. We will benefit from the expertise of local guides, and enjoy official briefings, small-group discussions, field work, readings and always conversations—conversations with host families, professors, locals, in the street, in the marketplace. Whether we are in class, traveling, worshiping, playing, eating, we will always be learning. The program will also include service learning opportunities in cooperation with local agencies and organizations.

Westmont in Jerusalem will be rich in challenges and rewards. Travel will be exciting but sometimes exhausting. A close community will be supportive but it may test your patience. Readings and lectures will enrich your travels but they will also limit personal freedoms. The very things that challenge us also cause the greatest growth—personally, intellectually, and spiritually.

Answers to Common Questions

1. What countries will we visit?

The program will focus on Israel/Palestine, with a substantial excursion to Jordan. Whether or not the itinerary includes an excursion to Egypt will be determined in the coming months.

2. Will the program include cultural immersion?

As much as possible during our travels, we will seek opportunities to get to know people from various cultures. We will stay in small, family-run hotels, hostels, family homes, agricultural communities, and even Bedouin tents. We will meet people in churches, mosques, synagogues, shops, universities, a theater, the marketplace. Our study of conversational Arabic will help us listen and speak wherever we travel.

3. How many credits will I earn?

16 units, divided between Religious Studies, Political Science, Foreign Language and PE.

4. What courses will I take?

  • RS104: Jesus in the Gospels and the Land (4 units) (This can count as an elective for RS majors/minors.)
  • POL__: The Israel-Palestine Conflict (4 units) (This counts as an elective for PS majors in the Standard, International Affairs and International Security and Development tracks.)
  • RS 165: Religions in Context: Judaism & Islam (4 units) (This can count as an elective for RS majors/minors.)
  • IS003: Introductory Arabic (3 units)
  • PEA034: Outdoor Education (1 unit)
  • AP191: Service Learning (0 units)

5. What General Education requirements does the program fulfill?
Final approval is pending but we expect the program will satisfy five GE requirements: Thinking Historically; Thinking Globally (pending); Foreign Language; Physical Education Activity; and Serving Society.

6. Who are the faculty leaders?

Professor Bruce Fisk, Religious Studies. As a veteran of two Europe Semesters (2002, 2005), three Middle East Mayterms (2004, 2007, 2009), Mediterranean Semester 2011, Westmont in Jerusalem 2013 and many trips to the region, Professor Fisk is eager to introduce students to Jesus in the Gospels and in the world of 1st century Roman Judea. Author of A Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jesus: Reading the Gospels on the Ground (Baker, 2011), he thinks the Land works like a Fifth Gospel that sheds valuable light on the other Four. He also thinks Western Christians won’t understand the modern Middle East until they meet Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Arabs, for themselves, listen to their stories and share their lives. He loves hiking, late night conversations, lively debate, music and sweet Arab mint tea.

2nd faculty member (yet to be confirmed)

The other courses—Arabic and Religions in Context—will be taught by qualified local professors.

7. Will the program be physically demanding?

We are excited about cultural and geographical immersion, not mere surface exposure. This will mean not only home stays but also other close-to-the-ground experiences: lots of outdoor learning, walking tours, short hikes, a multi-day hike in the Galilee, camel-riding in the Jordanian desert, and a day of rafting on the Jordan River. We will use public transportation whenever possible ( more authentic but less comfortable than tourist buses) and encourage you to travel light. (Backpacks only.) We will build in rest days, of course, but it will probably be more physically demanding than most off-campus programs.

8. Who should apply?

The program won't privilege a particular major. As for class standing, juniors and seniors rank above sophomores, BUT this is not the only consideration. (We’d prefer a hard-working sophomore to a lazy senior!) The ideal student for this program is curious (eager to learn, adventurous, full of questions, open to other perspectives), hard-working (willing to join a learning community, share your experiences, pull your weight), and flexible (willing to adapt and flex for the group, and to the cultures where we are living). If all this gets you excited, Westmont in Jerusalem may be fore you. But please read the following warming from the Surgeon General.

WARNING: This Semester Includes Experiences Known To Cause Deep Thought, Meaningful Debate, And Substantial Damage to Unfounded Assumptions and Pat Answers.

8. When should I apply?

Applications are available on-line, from the Off-campus Programs Office, and from Fisk's office in Porter Center. They are due back to the Off-campus Programs Office by Wednesday, February 19, at 5pm. You will hear word of your acceptance by spring break, on Friday, March 7. You will need to confirm by submitting a form with a $500.00 deposit by Thursday, March 20.

WARNING: This Semester Includes Experiences Known To Cause Deep Thought, Meaningful Debate, And Substantial Damage to Unfounded Assumptions and Pat Answers.

9. How much wil it cost?

Westmont Fall 2014 Tuition, Room and Board, and a program fee not to exceed $1000 (that will NOT include the cost of roundtrip transatlantic airfare to and from a gateway city in Europe, from which the group will meet and fly together to the MidEast)