Day 4 – Hebrew University

We left early in the morning for Hebrew University.

The first thing we did was see the University dorms for our students. The dorms are swank. We found out there is a bomb shelter in every room, a concrete enforced room. We had a long discussion about the University’s work in sharing information with students and the uprising in November. The student services office did excellent work in communicating with study abroad offices and parents.

We then met with a group of the security members of the University. Essentially the campus security team.

The campus sits between two Arab villages on a hillside. The entire campus is surrounded by a fence. That fence has a sensor on it so that if anyone touches the fence the camera that zooms in. In addition there are 140 student guards that patrol the perimeter. Only student guards. All Israeli students have to be part or the army and only students are the guards.

In July of 2003 9 people died in a terrorist attack of a pack of explosives.

Since then security has increased and the fences went up completely around the campus and patrols increased. The chief of security shared that there response time is 5 minutes maximum.

Students are allowed to have firearms in campus but they are required to have them registered. The campus takes their orders and makes rules based in the local police and IDF (Israeli Defense Foundation). The chief of security mentioned a telling point that he saw his role as not running security but mitigating risk. That his job was to minimize the impact that security had learning, in the same way that housing or food would not impact their academic prospects.

After our security tour we met with the Rothberg Institute, which is the English speaking wing of the Hebrew University. The courses taught are a variety of what are the needs of the students, they have a very diverse amount of work from law, history to film. All income comes from tuition no income from government or additional support. Their prices are about 12k a year.

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Day 3 – Jet Lag Day

In the morning I ate breakfast with the group but quickly decided that I needed to rest. Nursing a stomach bug and exhaustion I took the day away from more walking and being a tourist and went back to bed.

In the afternoon I walked a bit through the neighborhood. Enjoy the pictures and video.

Day 2 – BYU

We met today at the BYU center for Near Eastern Studies. The facility there sits on a the hill of east and west Jerusalem. An amazing facility that houses at maximum about 200 students, faculty and staff.

We met their head of security there who told us about how they handle security there. They literally sit at the crossroads between the two neighborhoods with the bottom floor at a gate that opens to East Jerusalem and the top floor, 7th floor in West Jerusalem.

Some take aways that I heard.

- there is a curfew at midnight
- there are particular areas that are off limit to the students.
- they were closed from 2000-2006 for security reasons in the area.
- all students go through training on security
- there is a practice of the shelter preparation in the event of an attack.
- All students must have cell phones that they provide.
- Facebook is banned on site.
- YouTube is banned.
- No Internet in their rooms.
- the facility has a perimeter that is monitored by walls and 24 hour security.
- there are no armed guards on campus.

I want to stick there for a moment. In the middle of a huge conflict zone, in a school, there are no armed guards. The logic, the head of the security team said. “No one could live with themselves if an accident happens and they have to tell a parent if their son or daughter is dead because they were shot. Also… We could not live with ourselves if we accidentally shoot someone in the neighborhood, that could shut us down.”

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Day 1 – Arrival

We arrived in Tel Aviv this morning (Thursday) and took a maxi to Jerusalem. Our time today is a blur but it included walking around the old city and getting a chance to taste some of the flavorful Israeli cuisine. Humus, falafels and shakshoukah.

I met with Rivka Silman, the Coordinator for Cornell students studying in Israel. We had a long talk and walking tour of Jerusalem. She’s been living in Jerusalem for 40 years. Truly a great human being who has been caring for students and integrating them into the culture here for a decade.

It has been a whirlwind day.

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Day 0 – Off to Israel

I’m off to Israel to do a familiarization tour with some of the best and brightest in the field of travel safety at universities. Traveling with me will Julie Friend from NorthWestern, Jamie Jaime Molyneux from University of Pennsylvania and Eryn Espín-Kudzinski from Butler. The four of us will be accompanied by some of Julie’s colleagues from the study abroad office, risk management and legal council.

The purpose or the trip is to familiarize ourselves with travel safety at universities and institutions around the country including Tel Aviv University, Hebrew University and Ben Guruion. We’ll also be visiting BYU and other colleagues in the field.

This is my first trip to Israel and I’m excited about it. A little nervous but overall excited. It’s an opportunity that I’m thankful for.

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