Diana C. Stoll and Michelle Dunn Marsh at Ben Gurion airport

Diana C. Stoll and Michelle Dunn Marsh at Ben Gurion airport

Here we are at Ben Gurion airport, sipping airport wine from plastic cups. Sigh. What a trip, as they say.

We had some very inspiring visits yesterday (traveling with Avital and Tracey)—mostly to places we had written about in our project but hadn’t actually seen in person. Starting off at the Google offices with the guidance of lovely Dona Raz, who works in Google’s public-policy division. Each floor of the Google headquarters is themed to some aspect of Israel: the Dead Sea (the gym), Jaffa (complete with orange crates and olive-oil-can lanterns), the beach (where a vast surfboard serves as a conference table), and more.

Then to the Peres Peace Center in Jaffa—and learning about their extraordinary outreach efforts, and their plans for a new visitors’ center focusing on Israel’s innovations—right up our alley!

 At Peres Peace Center

At Peres Peace Center

 Michelle and Diana outside Peres Peace Center

Michelle and Diana outside Peres Peace Center

We touched down at Shai Seltzer’s lovely farm near Sataf and tasted extraordinary dense and creamy goat’s cheeses. We chatted with him about his children’s lives, his own work teaching cheesemaking in Uganda and Tanganyika and India . . . Michelle was ready to curl up at his feet and adopt a new life as a goat maiden.

One of the most exciting visits of this trip was yesterday’s to the MEET campus in Jerusalem, where CEO Haim Erlich, two students, and a teacher met with us and presented what they do: bring together young Israeli and Palestinian high-school kids to teach them about entrepreneurship, engineering, high-tech ideas, and much more. It’s a 3-year after-school program that brings kids into intense interaction. Truly inspiring!

We wound up (tired!) at Chakra restaurant and celebrated our final meal with Avital and Tracey—sad to say good-bye.

 Diana's delicious fresh strawberries and creme fraiche at Chakra in Jerusalem

Diana's delicious fresh strawberries and creme fraiche at Chakra in Jerusalem

AND our final day! Michelle and I started out with Mount Zion Hotel’s beautiful groaning-board breakfast and a steam bath in the HAMAM! (Fantastic!)

In the late morning we took at taxi to the Bard Al Quds campus in East Jerusalem, where four young graduates spoke with us about how that wonderful program is developing. We had visited 5 years ago—fabulous to see how the campus and program have grown since then! We had a chance to sit in on a class in philosophy (Rousseau—wow)—the students seemed fully engaged and interested.

 Rashed, Asma, Anne, and Asmera, Al Quds Bard Writing Fellows

Rashed, Asma, Anne, and Asmera, Al Quds Bard Writing Fellows

And our hours were getting shorter and shorter . . . after a quick visit to the Educational Bookshop we walked through the Old City of Jerusalem. And a last meal of . . . falafel!! A fitting ending place for our trip.

And here we are at Ben Gurion airport—waiting for our plane home. We have so much to follow up on, and so much to think about, so much to allow to sink in. We are SO grateful to the team of people who helped us get here, and the people who have so generously guided us. And of course to Israel itself.

— Diana C. Stoll & Michelle Dunn Marsh