IALC Peace Fellowship Report Summer 2000

Alison Squires 
Undergraduate Student

South Dakota State University

Remote Sensing Techniques Specific to Vegetation Detection in Arid Regions

This report is about my experience in Israel as an IALC peace fellowship student. Although my experience may not have been as favorable as I had hoped it would be, I still think of it as a positive experience because I learned much about myself and also about different cultures than my own.

Before I arrived in Israel, I spent about four days in Amsterdam touring the city and the country.

I arrived in Tel Aviv at about 2:00 am and there was a cab arranged to take me to Sede Boker (Ben Gurion University of the Negev). When I arrived at Sede Boker, the person that I was working with was there to meet me and show me to the caravan in which I would be staying. The next day I went to his office to find out what my assignment would be.

The work that I ended up doing was not what I had expected. I thought I would be working outside looking at and identifying vegetation. Instead, all of that had been done and I was to scan all of this information that was on maps onto the computer. Over lunch the first day, I received a very brief tour of the campus and some of the main buildings. Other buildings were pointed to from the car.

It was much harder to meet people in Sede Boker than I thought it would be. I thought that there would be more people my age (undergraduates) working there. Instead all the people I met were either faculty, staff, or graduate students. I also thought I would meet people that I could travel around with but this didn't seem to be the case.

After a few days there, I decided that this experience was not what I was expecting and that it would be best if I left and went home. Some advice I would give to other students who are considering an IALC fellowship is to travel with someone else from the United States so that they have someone to talk with and travel with when site-seeing. I would also recommend asking exactly what the student will be doing as pertaining to the project. I never asked exactly what I would be doing, and I wished I had because it wasn't what I expected.

Even though my trip didn't end up as I had planned, I am glad I took the experience. I learned much about myself, such as I don't like to travel alone and I like to have people to talk to daily about my experiences. I also learned that not all cultures are like ours. Not everyone is as open and friendly as they are in the Midwest. I would still recommend for others to apply for a peace fellowship, but I would also ask them to consider my advice from my experience.