Disaster Relief and Deeper Connections

Search and rescue missions demand action even when there are no “good” choices. When students completed a rescue course with a local trainer, they dove into these challenging decisions and found that disaster relief can create deeper connections.

Watch NU students to the rescue on Vimeo here!

 “Our trainer was named Noam and is a part of a private search and rescue team. We learned how to move casualties. We talked about many of the challenges that arise in disaster relief. For example, rescuers often have to make quick decisions and can only save a certain number of people. Often there are no ‘good’ choices. Throughout the whole experience, I was imagining being in a real disaster and how difficult the work is, especially with the pressure and stress of peoples’ lives being at stake.” – Mike

“This was one of my favorite trips we’ve taken over the course of the program. Noam was very patient and engaged and made everything we were doing really enjoyable. Not only did we learn how to respond after an earthquake, but I left the site feeling as though I had gained mechanical, leadership and team skills. Even more surprising, we’ve been interacting at a deeper level ever since!” – Rebecca

“The rescue course was amazing. It had us work together to get something done and highlighted the importance of communication in order to be most effective. The disaster simulation was what I was looking forward to the most and it is a big part of why I decided to do the public health program in Israel.” – Robbie

Tel HaShomer: Exploring Israel’s Largest Medical Center

A visit to Israel’s Center for Disease Control revealed what public health at Israel’s largest medical center looks like. For James and Mike, it shed light on how a country practically addresses controversial global issues.

“The trip to the ICDC gave us such a foundational background into some of the primary programs of the Israeli Ministry of Health. My group spent time with the director of the nutrition programs, and it was fascinating to learn more about what public health departments and governments can do to promote good nutrition among youths, an issue that seems to be controversial throughout the world.” – James

“We learned about the recent polio scare and how the ICDC combatted it by reintroducing immunizations. We also spoke of the difficulties that health agencies like ICDC face when trying to implement mass immunization programs. The visit gave us an idea of how the MoH practically addresses the public health issues in Israel.” – Mike

Adapting to Crisis at Tel Aviv Medical Center

What happens when public health goes underground? Mike and Rebecca took on Tel Aviv Medical Center from the ground up to find out.

“We met with the head of the emergency department. He gave us a tour and explained how the department functions during a mass casualty event. He also showed us the underground hospital that would be fully functional in the case of rocket attacks and other wartime scenarios. We watched a video that showed the department’s response to the Dolphinarium attacks. I was impressed by how efficient the department operates even in crisis situations, and how they can adapt to many different kinds of situations.” – Mike

“Speaking with the director of the ER was absolutely fantastic…The underground hospital was unlike anything I’ve personally seen.” – Rebecca

The Gardener’s Narrative of the Beit Lid Massacre

There’s a human story behind the Beit Lid Memorial that honors the 22 Israeli soldiers killed in the first suicide bombing by Hamas, carried out in January 1995. When students arrived on site, they met a man with first-hand memory of this moment.

“I confess that what was most significant here was the gardener approaching us [near the site of the explosion] and sharing his very personal narrative of that day. Though stopping at these places was significant without a serendipitous encounter with an ex-soldier, his visit really added a lot to our experience there.” – Rebecca

“I am constantly in awe of the luck we seem to have on our adventures; who would have known that while visiting the memorial site we would run into someone who had experienced it? Things like this can never be replicated – fortuitous moments of education… It is one thing to learn about a tragedy and another thing entirely to communicate with someone who had actually experienced it.” – Robbie

The Arab Sector: Managing Health Disparaties of Diverse Populations

 Diana and Robbie’s visit to the Arab Sector, Umm Al-Fahm, the Tul Karm Check Post and Israel’s “Narrow Waist” exposed both a region’s separation and a community’s motivation. In an area of escalating conflict and changing trust, one word held constant: “remarkable.”

“The government and the system didn’t address their needs sufficiently, so they found a way to do it. The clinics that they established were incredible to see and the people who were directing them were remarkable in their commitment. The separation wall was a powerful testament to the degree that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has escalated, and the distrust that the Israelis feel towards the Palestinians even though they live in the same community.” – Diana

“We have learned about the health disparities between the Jewish and Arab communities and we have learned about the refugee situation and it’s just sort of disheartening to see how situations mirror themselves in multiple countries. This is the first time I am getting a chance to interact with other minorities of a different country and it’s remarkable to see how similar we can be in terms of our motivations and our goals.” –Robbie

Visiting Jerusalem: Honoring the Victims of the Holocaust

Jerusalem is incredibly significant to Israel’s society, history and conflict. For Mike, it showed a powerful constellation.

“After Mount Herzl, we went to Yad Vashem. We saw the President and the Prime Minister lay wreaths to honor the victims and veterans of the Holocaust. One of the most memorable moments was visiting the site specifically devoted to the children that died during the Holocaust. It was a rather simple and short museum, but it had a very strong impact and a beautiful aesthetic that, to me, looked like stars.” – Mike

Southern Israel: Bonding at the Top of Masada

From the Qumran Caves to the Dead Sea and Ein Gedi Oasis to a Masada pilgrimage, Southern Israel created a once-in-a-lifetime bonding experience. Knowing a place means knowing its history and its people, and an early morning hike gave Robbie the unforgettable chance to do so.

“We visited underground ruins, witnessed many groups of people from different regions and cultures on pilgrimages to holy sites. We hiked Masada at 4:45 am via the snake path in order to see the sun rise from the top. It was a beautiful sight and a great bonding experience, not just with each other, but with the history of the country we are trying to learn about.” – Robbie