Editor’s Note: For most of January, HDS students do not have regular classes and instead have the opportunity to take an intensive “J-Term” course. These courses typically run for 1-2 weeks, meeting for many hours each day. Like in the regular term, HDS students have the opportunity to take classes at other Harvard schools, and some courses involve international travel. In this blog post, HDS student Kaitlin Wheeler talks about her experience in a J-Term course in Israel/Palestine. We also want to note that this article represents the views and experience of one student at HDS—our campus houses students with a variety of perspectives on this complicated issue.
Post by: Kaitlin Wheeler, MTS ‘21
The taxi rumbled along the highway through the dark land, as the dimly lit lights shined onto the highway sign pointing to Jerusalem. I looked out of the window of the taxi and saw the desert palms and scraggly bushes. The landscape quickly changed as we drove through sweeping hills and valleys, tall mountainous walls on either side of road. This was my first glimpse into the landscape of Israel on a 1.5-hour taxi ride at 2:00 a.m.
As a Harvard Divinity School (HDS) student, I enrolled in the J-Term course Learning in Context: Narratives of Displacement in Israel and the West Bank, co-hosted by HDS and the Harvard Kennedy School. I was required to take the Fall semester class, “Religion, Conflict, and Peace in the Middle East” with Professor Moore. From here, I went through an application process for the J-Term course and was interviewed by Professor Moore and leaders of the Religion, Conflict, and Peace initiative, along with a fellow from the program. Before leaving, we had pre-trip meetings and a workshop with the Harvard Kennedy School’s Marshall Ganz on Public Narrative. The accepted group of 15 students were from all different schools, some of which included the Harvard Business, Kennedy, and Divinity schools.Continue reading