This year’s delegation of Rhodes Scholars lived up to their reputation as the “best and brightest” during their travels in Israel with Project Interchange. Whether challenging presenters or meeting informally with Israelis, these participants were highly engaged throughout their week in Israel. Seminar highlights included visits to Christian sites replete with participants’ reading of relevant passages in the New Testament, meetings with Israeli students, and briefings with Yossi Klein Halevi and Dr. Nadine Baudot-Trajtenberg, Manager of Investor Relations at Bank Hapoalim, Israel’s largest bank. They also valued the opportunities to converse with Israelis and Palestinians on a more informal level and believed that their experience will greatly inform and enhance their understanding of Israel and the challenges to the quest for peace.
This delegation of political and academic leaders of tomorrow is comprised of first and second year Rhodes Scholars in residence at Oxford University. Special attention is paid to introduce this group of emerging leaders to Israel through its history, diverse society, social and political challenges and role in its strategic environment. The group visits with a broad spectrum of citizenry (Israeli Arab, Bedouin, Christian, and Jewish) and travels the country to best understand the layers of archeology, history and complexity that comprise Israel. These students are briefed on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israeli politics, and the US-Israel relationship by Israeli and Palestinian policymakers, academics, and government officials. They examine economic development, pluralism, immigration and absorption, strategic and security issues, education, the public health system, Arab-Jewish coexistence, and the pursuit of peace.
Cristina Bejan, Wadham College
My Project Interchange experience has already inspired me to further explore the issues of the region. For example, just two nights ago in my college at Oxford, Wadham, as President of the College Graduate community, I organized a joint Graduate and Faculty Research Forum focusing on the Middle East. We had speakers address Nuclear Power in Israel and Iran, youth journalism in Syria and the question of democratization in the region on the whole. It was a vibrant, dynamic evening with record-breaking attendance of students and Fellows of the college. It was tremendously exciting for me, having just returned from Israel and having seen the Jordan, Syrian and Lebanese borders, to participate in such an evening. And I owe my knowledge and understanding of the region to Project Interchange!