Text by Nora '12 and photos by John G.
This morning we met Muhammad, a native of East Jerusalem, who gave us a history of the area before bringing us on our first Middle Eastern journey. The six-hour walking tour covered the four quarters of the Old City and brought us in and out of all of the seven gates. We saw the birthplace of the Virgin Mary at St. Anne's Church and then visited the courthouse where Jesus was condemned to death. We followed his footsteps around the Old City along the 12 stations of the cross. Muhammed shared the stories at each station, and we all felt very informed in his hands.
We then went to the Western Wall near the Temple Mount. We each wrote a wish on a piece of paper and folded it up to stick in the cracks of the stone. We ate our first felafel meal at Abu-Shukri, a small but delicious restaurant in the heart of the Old City. We finished our amazing walking tour at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Jesus was hung on the cross.
We then had the opportunity to explore the Old City in small groups. I had the pleasure of just wondering and walking around with no specific destination. We went into small side streets, and out into the larger quarters. In the shade it was chilly, but in the sunlight, the temperature was perfect and the sky was completely blue and clear. We are all exhausted, but very fulfilled from an amazing day full of new knowledge and gorgeous views. When we went around the circle and said one adjective that described the day, the words included: "amazing," "humbling," "spiritual," and "enlightening."
The trip is off to a great start and everybody is excited and giddy to head to Ramallah and meet their host families. We can't wait to share everything we have learned in just one day with everybody back home. We are looking forward to an amazing week making new friends and exploring new cities.