Hello, readers! As I’m writing this, we are exactly 12 days from standing in Boston Logan Airport waiting to board our flight to Kenya (well, technically, first to Amsterdam, but, semantics). I am beyond excited for this trip; excited about exploring, learning, meeting new people and further connecting to my Judaism.
I’ve traveled a considerable amount for being almost 23 years old, something I’m extremely thankful for, but my travels have yet to take me anywhere within the continent of Africa. Friends and family have been to various parts but are never able to give me a full image of what to expect; they make it clear it’s a place you have to visit yourself to understand. Israel, on the other hand, I’ve visited four times and am entirely comfortable there—the food, the people, the culture. I wanted to go on this trip to understand where and how these two worlds overlap. The only understanding and experience I have with these new countries are that from the internet and studies, far from what I imagine the reality will be.
Having just recently come off of a university campus that, like many, has at times had a palpable anti-Israel sentiment, it’s interesting to hear how people, especially students, respond to my talking about Project Inspire. It’s always surprising to some hearing others talk about Israel outside the context of the conflict, as a compassionate state with volunteers and connections across the globe. That is one of the reasons I’m most excited to embark on this journey! I’ve always been so comfortable talking about Israel in the context of her own state; I talk about the democracy within Israel, the IDF morality training and innovations in sustainability within the state, but have failed to wholly understand and talk about how it spans further than that. I hope after this trip that I, and the rest of the group, have a better understanding of Israel’s standing outside of the Middle East and outside of the United States.
Of course, my interest spans past the advocacy and I’m extremely excited to be seeing how sustainable development and practices are being implemented around the world. I can’t wait to travel to the farm and school to experience firsthand how these innovations exist in practice, not just on paper. And I hope that what we see and learn can be taken back and impact how we do our jobs here in Boston!
Kaila Fleisig originally hails from northern New Jersey but currently lives in Boston, working in East Cambridge. Kaila is a senior business analyst at Bluewolf, an IBM company, and is passionate about the use of technology in education. Kaila enjoys traveling, skiing and hiking and looks forward to traveling to Kenya and Uganda, as she’s never been before.