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A Short-Course, but a Long-Lasting Impact

Within its name, the Global Leadership Program communicates its central focus on the global; the worldwide, the international. It aims to propel all of its entrants into a broader experience and understanding then that provided by our often insular and safe communities. The GLP emphasises how enriching learning about other cultures can be to our own lives, and how it can benefit society on a larger scale. I was lucky enough, over the summer break, to experience this first hand.

Run through Macquarie’s International Studies units, and with the aid of Macquarie International, I was able to partake in a short-course exchange with the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Whilst there, I was able to participate in an archaeological excavation. What this enabled me to do was gain first-hand experience in my chosen field whilst simultaneously being engrossed in, and exposed to, a new culture.

South of Israel

While I was able to make superficial and entertaining discoveries such as how much slang Australians use in a single conversation and that Israeli hummus is about a hundred times better than any you can buy here, I was able to learn something from the people I interacted with.

There were two key lessons that I took away from my stay in Israel: those of respect and resilience.

Israel is a country of made of many peoples, with many kinds of faiths, foods and faces. It sits on some of the most well-known sites, that hold a variety of differing meanings for people the world over. In such a climate, the only way for this country to function is through respect. Whilst over there, I had some of the most interesting conversations revolving around religion and politics, yet not once did I feel disrespected in my views. Everyone that you converse with acknowledges your right to your own opinion, yet is still willing to provide their side of the story. Each person’s contribution is valued no matter the background it comes from. It is a country based on the sharing of land, resource and knowledge and I truly believe we can all learn from it; learn to acknowledge that what others have to say as maybe being able to change how we see the world, or to accept that someone’s background or faith may be able to present a better solution to a problem than our own.

Below is a picture of the Western Wall in Jerusalem on Shabbat.

Western Wall on Shabbat

Shabbat is a Jewish holy day of rest that begins at sunset of Friday and continues until sunset Saturday. Hundreds of Jews come to the wall for fellowship each week, both Orthodox and Reformed, amongst Christians from all over the world. This respect of each other’s practice is inspiring, and reverberates into their society. What would happen if here, in Australia, we were more respectful of the plethora of practises that accompany the vast variety of cultures we are so lucky to house?

The second lesson I learnt was that of resilience. Throughout all of Israel, be it in the south or north, tels are visible. A Tel is an archaeological feature that looks like a hill, but is actually one destroyed settlement upon another that layer to create a hill. Archaeology is often the study of such destroyed settlements, as was the case of my site at Khirbet er-Rai in the south. Walking amongst these tels, or through the Old City in Jerusalem, or visiting places such as Capernaum, the Sea of Galillee and the Caesarea, tells the story of the past and the way in which our ancestors continually rose from hardship to build monuments that attest to humanity’s ability to create greatness; to establish flourshing societies with rich cultures of art, dance and food. For every monument that still stands, was one that was destroyed before it. Our site contained a large destruction layer, meaning all of the material we found was broken, blackened from fire, with walls toppled and pottery crushed. But above this layer, was another from a later period, where society had picked itself back up, to again create something beautiful.

Even in our work, resilience was communicated. We would dig all day to find nothing, yet would return, with the rising of the sun in the morning, for a new day where the possibility of unearthing something remarkable was again present. Bucket after bucket of soil would be lifted until at last features would be discovered. This resilience enabled us to tell the story of a past that was forgotten, but one that now told, can resonate with many people today.

Me working on-site

This overseas experience of mine thus challenged me and has, in my opinion, changed me for the better. Being exposed to another culture and way of life has taught me that value of respect and resilience in which I can now apply in my own community in the hope of making a positive difference. The GLP has accurately and importantly recognised the value of working with other cultures and the way in which it can better not only our own small worlds, but our larger world as we operate as global citizens.

**Please note this blog post was written prior to COVID-19

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