First Post

Why am I doing this?


Source: Google Maps

I just began an internship in the Center for Transboundary Water Management at the Arava Institute of Environmental Studies.  The Institute is located on Kibbutz Ketura, about a half an hour north of Eilat, Israel. It is right on the border between Israel and Jordan, and in fact, the Institute houses a large international contingent, with a third from Israel, a third from Jordan and Palestine, and a third from outside the Middle East.  It’s in the middle of the desert and it will be my home for the next six months!

I just graduated college, and I’ve never made a blog before, so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to share with the world what I’m up to, and just so I can look back myself to remember an experience that I anticipate will be life changing.  I never got a chance to study abroad, so I really look forward to getting an international perspective on my american education, learning first-hand about the struggles and politics in the Middle East, and gaining new insights on my Jewish Heritage.

My posts will largely relate to four things: day-to-day activities or new things I learn during my internship, environmental issues in Israel, particularly related to water conservation, quality, or security, Middle East news and how they affect me here, and insights on faith, ideology, or personal growth that I experience along the way.

What am I going to be doing there?

I will be interning under Clive Linchin, who has a PhD in water resource management and wrote the book on water management and security in the Middle East.  As environmental science major, this topic fascinates me because access to clean water is one of the environmental issues most important for society.  Working in water resources in the Middle East is especially interesting because the desert conditions make water scarcity a large problem.  With watersheds that cross between many national borders, water rights has become an extremely political issue in the Middle East, and may cause the next war there.  My specific project is still developing, but as of now, I will be tasked to use GIS to create a digital geographic database of water polluters in the Palestinian West Bank.  Much wastewater from the West Bank flows into Israel, who charges Palestine for the polluted water.  This “polluter pays” policy is the most efficient solution in many open, competitive markets.  However, given the disparities of economic and political power between Israel and the West Bank, another solution could be reached that makes both side more comfortable.  These are the larger questions the Institute is asking, of which I am only a part.

Why the name?

The “Road to Damascus” is the path Paul the Apostle took from Jerusalem to Damascus, which influenced him greatly and led to his conversion to Christianity.  I found it relavent, as I have just moved to the Holy Land from Rhode Island, but also because I see this experience as potentially having a large influence on me and my ways of thinking, which have largely been shaped in America.  This is especially true at this time in my life, as being a recent college graduate has forced me to decide who I am and what I care about a lot faster than I expected.  We shall see how much any of this comes to pass in these 6 months.