Hillsdale stu­dents in Jerusalem on the Pas­sages 2018 trip. Rachael Reynolds | Courtesy

Two groups of Hillsdale College stu­dents attended a 10-day trip to Israel over Christmas break to learn about the Israeli-Pales­tinian con­flict and visit bib­lical sites. Coor­di­nated by Pas­sages in part­nership with The Philos Project, 41 stu­dents attended the general Pas­sages trip to Israel and nine attended a spe­cialized trip for student jour­nalists.

Senior Jonathan Moy said he attended the general tour both for spir­itual reasons and to absorb the culture in order to better under­stand the con­flict.

“It’s one thing to hear from Amer­icans,” Moy said. “It’s better to hear from Israeli and Pales­tinian cit­izens.”

The group visited his­torical and holy sites like the Garden of Geth­semane and Hezekiah’s Tunnel, stayed in Jerusalem, and heard from various speakers on the con­flict in Israel.

“Everyone in America thinks they have a solution for Israel and Palestine,” Moy said. “Pas­sages wants us to leave with more ques­tions than answers. I feel like that was accom­plished.”

In addition to the group of Hillsdale stu­dents on the general Pas­sages tour of Israel, a group of Hillsdale College jour­nalists were part of the first Dateline Jerusalem group.

Arranged by Vivian Hugh­banks ‘16 and Nicole Foy, a reporter at the Idaho Press Tribune, the group attended jour­nalism-spe­cific events in addition to vis­iting loca­tions typical of other groups. The Dateline Jerusalem  trip lasted 10 days and was attended by 29 stu­dents from 16 schools.

“I think it’s important for student jour­nalists inter­ested in pur­suing a career as a foreign cor­re­spondent in the region to have a solid grasp of the geopo­litical sig­nif­i­cance and reli­gious her­itage of the Holy Land,” Hugh­banks said in an email.

In addition to vis­iting loca­tions such as the Garden of Geth­semane, the Western Wall, and Nazareth, the group also heard from various reporters and other media con­tacts, as well as visited a newsroom in Jerusalem.

“Our bus had an expanded itin­erary,” Hugh­banks said. “In addition to the typical sites and speakers, we met with jour­nalists and media watchdog orga­ni­za­tions, toured the newsroom of [Israeli wire service] Tazpit Press Service, and included time during the program for stu­dents to conduct inter­views and work on their stories.”

Each student was required to write an article on the trip.

Senior and jour­nalism minor Brendan Clarey said he was sur­prised at how much jour­nalism was on the trip.

“The jour­nalism part was really appealing to me,” Clarey said. “It’s not just a pil­grimage.”

Clarey added that going on the trip impacted how he will report and consume inter­na­tional news.

“In America, we like to have binary con­flicts,” Clarey said. “It’s way more com­pli­cated than the news media wants to let on.”

Clarey added that he was impacted in par­ticular by a speech about bias in the wire ser­vices, which provide articles for outlets around the world.

“I’m going to think twice before reading Asso­ciated Press or Reuters,” he said.

The dateline tour was also the first Pas­sages group to visit the Temple Mount complex.

“The schedule was packed — I think we were all com­pletely exhausted by the end of the trip — but each par­tic­ipant filed at least one story before we got on the plane home,” Hugh­banks.

Hugh­banks said that, overall, this first jour­nalism trip went well.

“We had a great group of student jour­nalists from across the country, and each took advantage of dif­ferent angles the itin­erary pro­vided,” Hugh­banks said. “I’m hoping that the excellent work of the par­tic­i­pants on this trip will set a good precedent for future trips.”