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September 11, 2012

Today was a day away from meetings, away from suit jackets and away from asking trying questions.

Instead, we moved toward the sea – the Dead Sea to be exact.

In three hours, the group traveled from Haifa to the Jordanian beaches. Soon after crossing the border, the group sat down to a stomach-bursting buffet, only to float in the Dead Sea an hour later.

It was an unconventional day for the trip, to be sure.

In this new setting, however, the group was able to understand that the Olive Tree Initiative is not educational solely by means of the people and organizations the students come in contact with, but also in the connections it fosters between the students.

Students and faculty enjoyed a quick stop by the Dead Sea. Credit: Claudia Cheffs

Students and faculty enjoyed a quick stop by the Dead Sea. Credit: Claudia Cheffs

At its core, the Olive Tree Initiative is about the students and faculty that compose it, and the humanity that resounds in those of every political, religious, and social stripe. Although most days of the trip will be a process of challenging, arguing and discussing conflict politics, it is also about establishing the social ties that will carry our time in the Middle East back to campus.

We ended the day with dinner at a Indian-Lebanese restaurant with Hisham Majali. Majali is the co-founder and director of The Centre For New Diplomacy in Jordan and member of the prominent Bedouin Majali family.

The Majali family resides in South Jordan, and are head of Al-Karak society in the region. The Majali family has a strong political and military history in Jordan – members of the family have held high ranking positions in both spheres throughout the country’s development.

Majali briefed the group on Jordan’s current political climate and issues surrounding the country’s relationship with Israeli.

Speaking to broad domestic concerns, Majali said he believes that measures need to be taken to evenly allocate resources in Jordan in order to raise the overall stature Jordan’s people, instead of concentrating the resources in Amman.

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