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Global Delbarton Travels to Jordan, Israel, and Palestine
Jenna Gomez

Delbarton's trip to Jordan, Israel, and Palestine, guided by Arabic teacher Zack Tabor, is an outstanding example of transformational experiential learning. This trip to the Middle East bottles up all the intense pieces of the human experience - from authentic interpersonal encounters and the vastness of nature and landscape to an honest confrontation with power dynamics and oppression - in a short 10 days. The ability to participate in and witness transformative moments such as these in our students reminds Mr. Tabor and me of just how special it is to be a part of the Delbarton community, where we are called to challenge our perspectives and try new things.

On the trip, we had the opportunity to visit cultural, historical, natural, and religious sites. We began in Amman, the capital of Jordan, and traveled South to Madaba, known as the mosaic city and where we learned the deep history preserved through mosaics going back to the 6th century AD. From Madaba, we took the day to visit the Baptismal site of Christ, where students stood in the Jordan River, the Dead Sea, and Mt. Nebo, where Moses looked out to the Holy Land. Our next stop was Wadi Musa, where Petra, one of the world's wonders, is located. The vastness of Petra is jaw-dropping, and we sat on top of a mountain as Mr. Tabor encouraged us to not only take in the landscape and admire the architecture but to imagine those who were here before us. Wadi Rum came next, where we stayed in the desert and learned about the Bedouin lifestyle, history, and culture from Abu Bashar, who captivated us with stories of his family and proudly included us in his traditions. After a moving goodbye, we continued our journey to the border of Israel. We crossed the border on foot and took the bus up to Jerusalem. Jerusalem is an incredible place because of the profound religious meaning of being there with so many visitors from around the world, as it contrasts with the tension felt with armed guards standing on the corner. We shared deep reflective conversations as we worked through the complexity and history that we were experiencing in the present moment. We also had the opportunity to visit Bethlehem, the Western Wall, Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Mt. of Olives, and so much more before eventually returning home tired but incredibly fulfilled and connected. 

I summarize the itinerary of the trip because it would not be possible to write everything that we learned together at each place in a short review. In the end, what was most meaningful was the realness and fullness of human life that we experienced. The Joy that we experienced. We were met with true generosity of spirit from every person that we came in contact with. Jameela, our tour guide in Jordan; Abu Bashar, our Bedouin host in Wadi Rum; and Ahmed, our cab driver and tour guide in Bethlehem, in particular, left a lifelong impact on each of us. 

What is incredible about traveling in a group - particularly a group of young men with brilliant minds and kind hearts- is witnessing moments of profound meaning in an individual way which then flows out to touch the lives of the rest. For some, these moments were found in visiting Holy sites and feeling a strong connection with the history and stories from which our spirituality and faith come. For some, it was through cultural experiences that changed minds. For some, it was being on land where family was before you and feeling a sense of home. For some, it was in understanding how small we are in God's natural landscapes. For all of us, it was Joy that "when explored more fully, offers avenues for a deeper understanding of God's goodness and love".

My favorite moments of all were watching the kids simply exist and be present in these mountaintop experiences of joy. Moments where they sat silently watching the sunset in the desert, or later when they lay on the ground staring at the stars and couldn't stop laughing. Mr. Tabor and I stood in silence and listened to them while reflecting on what it meant for all of us to be here. Joy does not exist without the presence and knowledge of suffering, something that we also came to understand and that amplified God's presence on this trip. 

The daily routines that dull our ability to see things with fresh eyes are lifted when you travel. These mountaintop experiences of joy become a pointer for when we return to the routines of our lives. We don't live in those moments all of the time, but they let us know that they are possible. We all know people whose spirit shines through them all the time, and we met many people like this in our travels. I think this can be a challenge for us to take back - to find the joy that we know exists and to let ourselves live fully in the presence of God while pushing ourselves to understand his reach through travel, authentic interpersonal connection, and full, present, experiences. 

Delbarton students in Dead Sea
Architecture from Global Delbarton trip tp Jordan
Delbarton students with flag on Architecture from Global Delbarton trip tp Jordan
Students with flag on Jordan trip
Students with flag in Israel
Students on Jordan Trip with ancient columns
Students posing on rock while on Jordan Trip
Students with flag on Jordan trip