A People of Peace

It has been brought to my attention that I have arrived in a location where I will only find love, togetherness and people who pray for peace and unity every day. The people here pray for peace within their country, as well as in bordering countries where the soldiers of Israel protect their people from conflict. They also pray for peace for those who have immigrated to their country, and peace for those — like me — who may just be here to study, visit or are looking for a life change.

Here in the lovely area of Haifa, Israel, one can find a vast mixture of people from a variety of different cultures. In just my first week of being at the University of Haifa, located at the top of Mount Carmel, I have had the opportunity to be around Persians, Africans, Arabs, British, Germans, Hungarians, Italians, French, Romanians, Russians other Americans and, of course, Israelis.

Upon my arrival I have had nothing but kindness and generosity shown to me. Food has been offered, given and paid for by complete strangers. When I’ve offered to pay, they kindly said they were only trying to help since I was unable to read the language, and it would have been an insult for them to take money from someone in need of assistance. I have also been assisted across the street by people driving by in their cars.

My traveling companion, who is also studying here, and I experienced amazing generosity from total strangers when our taxi dropped us off on the wrong side of the university (and mountain). We were struggling, trying to figure out how we were going to get six large suitcases over to the other side of the mountain, where we needed to be. The task seemed impossible in the extreme heat of the day. However, as we started pushing, pulling, kicking and seemingly strangling our luggage while trying to get up the steep mountainside, several students, security and staff immediately came to our assistance and carried the luggage to the correct location.

No one asked questions. No one complained that the Americans brought too much. No one laughed at our naivete and struggles.

Instead they all came together to help us get the task done and make us feel safe and secure. They even fed us at the end of the long trek! We could not understand their language nor could most of them understand us, but the fact that they saw two young women in need of assistance made something click.

Since then, every day and night after classes many of these same people come together for food and drinks and the enjoyment of each other’s company. They share with us their many different languages, dances, prayers, foods and stories about their homelands. We try to teach them a little about our home. They really do love the idea of being in America. “The home of the free,” they say.

However, I have never felt so alive or so at peace as I have with the kindness, love and generosity that I have been shown here in Haifa, Israel. No matter what color, race or culture one may be from, the people here accept us all and pray for us all — that peace will come to their country and all the nations of the world.

They have proven to me to be a people of peace.

Elizabeth Jones is a transfer student majoring in criminal justice and international security and conflict resolution (ISCOR). She is studying at University of Haifa in Israel for an entire academic year.

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