Israeli Students Visit America

By Erin Browne
Cold Spring Harbor High School, New York

On Friday January 13, our Israeli friends came to visit us. It was kind of ironic given the date that they came, but their visit to New York proved to be a great experience for both the Israeli students and us here at Cold Spring Harbor High School in New York.

The thing that amazed me at first was that the Israeli students were joined by an Arab student named Waffa whom they easily befriended. The first day that Ayelet -- the Israeli student I hosted -- came, I spoke to her about Waffa and how she had a change of heart after she had spoken to him. Before speaking to him, she felt angered at the Arabs and felt they were hurting Israel, but after speaking to Waffa, she realized that most Arabs also wanted peace, and it was just the terrorists who were trying to destroy the peace process.

Ayelet started to explain to me how much Waffa had opened her eyes to the realization that the Arabs were just like the Israelis, and that the majority of the people in Israel would like to put an end to the violence. This really made me think about how many wars, fights and deaths could be prevented if only people would talk and listen to each other.

The visit also enabled me to make a lot of new friends among both the Israeli and Argentinean students. The Argentineans were staying at a school near our school, Northport High School on Long Island, New York.

Israeli, US, and Argentinean Students at Lunch
Israeli, Argenitinean, & US Students

It was amazing how similar we all were although we lived oceans apart. I always thought that it was only Americans who were obsessed with malls, movies and parties, but I soon realized that Americans were not alone, and that Israeli and Argentinean students enjoyed many of the same things as I did. The thing that surprised me was how open and friendly the Argentinean students were, and how well we all got along. It upset me when I thought about how rude Americans could sometimes be in comparison to the Argentineans and Israelis who, regardless of our language barrier, never once got frustrated with us.

This exchange was a wonderful learning experience for me because I was able to see and learn more about the customs and personalities of teenagers my own age who are from countries miles apart. Although the week seemed to fly by, the memories that I have, and the bonds that we made, will last a lifetime.

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