WESTMONT IN JERUSALEM: Spring 2019--details to follow

Dome and wire.JPG


Why not make Jerusalem your home for spring semester, 2017? Why not become so familiar with the Holy City that you have your own hangouts and favorite foods, know shopkeepers by name, and anticipate the city’s rhythms—on Friday (Muslims), Saturday(Jews) and Sunday (Christians)? Why not experience the city’s many cultures, study its tangled history and marvel at its rich traditions? Why not let “Israel” and “Palestine” become for you real places full of real people? Why not let your eyes be opened to see, and to understand, the painful struggle between Jews and Palestinians?

Westmont in Jerusalem 2017 will use Jerusalem as home base, but we will explore the rest of Israel and the West Bank as well, and journey to nearby Jordan and Egypt. We will make discoveries in the classroom but also during field trips and site visits. We will learn from local guides and official briefings; we will dive into small-group discussion, conduct fieldwork, and pour over books; and we will delight in rich conversation—with host families, professors, and locals in the street, the café, the marketplace. Whether we are in class, traveling, worshiping, playing, eating, serving local agencies—we will always be learning. Westmont in Jerusalem 2017 will be rich in challenges and rewards. Travel will be exciting but sometimes exhausting. Our close community will be supportive but may test your patience. Readings and lectures will enrich our travels but they will also limit personal freedoms. The very things that challenge us also cause the greatest growth—personally, intellectually, and spiritually. So. . . why not?


Answers to Common Questions

1. What countries will we visit?

The program will focus on Israel/Palestine, with a substantial excursion to Jordan and Egypt.

2. Will the program include cultural immersion?

Yes! As much as possible during our travels, we will find ways 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.

farmer in Israel

3. How many credits will I earn?

16 units, divided between Religious Studies,Interdisciplinary Studies, 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.)
  • IS129: Culture and Society: Israel and Palestine (4 units)
  • 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?
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)

Arabic will be taught by Nasra Dahdal, an experienced local Arabic instructor. Religions in Context will be team-taught by two local professors--one Jewish and one Muslim.

bridge at Wadi rum


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?

You, if you are passionate about learning, eager for adventure, and ready to move outside your comfort zone. The program won't privilege a particular major. 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 here, 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 29, 2016, at 5pm. You will hear word of your acceptance by spring break, on Friday, March 18. You will need to confirm by submitting a form with a $500.00 deposit by Thursday, March 31..

9. How much will it cost?

Westmont Fall 2017 Tuition, Room and Board, plus a program fee (not to exceed $1000--hopefully less). You will also be responsible for a roundtrip transatlantic airfare to and from a gateway city in Europe still to be determined, where the group will meet and depart together to the Middle East