July 23, 2013| By Sergio Carmona, Staff Writer
University of Miami students recently spent a month in Israel reporting on events in the region as they unfolded.
The students participated in the Jerusalem Seminar, a UM study-abroad program in which the school collaborated with the Jerusalem Press Club and that was based at the Mishkenot Sha'ananim, an international cultural and conference center established by the Jerusalem Foundation. UM's Sue and Leonard Miller Center for Contemporary Judaic Studies and its George Feldenkreis Program in Judaic Studies partnered with the School of Communication and the Department of International Studies in the College of Art and Sciences to offer the program. This was the first time the school offered the program.
"I have been to Israel myself at least 15 times and this was by far the most interesting trip," said Ira Sheskin, a UM professor who was at the seminar for the last two weeks. "The level of what the students did in the month was truly amazing. I think everyone of the students really appreciated being there and what they got out if it. I'm sure it's an experience that will impact their lives and they will never forget it."
The student participants were Josh Baumoehl, Gabriel Baca, William Pfizenmaier, Harrison Polk, Clinton Rodriguez and Kate Stanton. They earned credits in journalism, Judaic studies or international relations, took field trips and tours of historically important areas, did workshops with some of Israel's leading political, governmental and academic personalities as well as Israeli and foreign correspondents, participated and worked at the International Conference that was convened by Israeli President Shimon Peres and included participants such as former United States President Bill Clinton, and blogged about their experiences.
"The program was great because it allowed us to not only learn about what's happening with Israel but also the entire Middle East, so I got the opportunity to learn a broader perspective on the entire conflict and I got to see from multiple perspectives of what's happening there," Baumoehl, a senior who resides in West Palm Beach, said. "There wasn't only one bias towards Israel or one bias towards the Arab nations. It was a collective understanding of things as far as politics go, as far as economics go, and as far as the military goes."
Baumoehl enjoyed forming relationships and bonds with the Israelis.
"I thought it was great that I got to meet friends from Israel so I can get an inside perspective of what's going on because in America we hear only what the media says but you don't have relationships with people and at the seminar I was able to speak to people and make friendships with people my own age," he said.