By Eva Muir, Mitzvah Corps Israel 2017 Participant
Before coming to Israel, many of my friends had told me about their experiences. Most of them included stories of beaches in Tel Aviv or 0f the old city of Jerusalem. I knew that Mitzvah Corps Israel would show me hidden treasures and places that might be overlooked by the average tourist, yet nothing I had heard prepared me for how I felt in South Tel Aviv, which, simply put, was overwhelmed.
I reflected in my journal: “Today we went on a walking tour of the poorer side of Tel Aviv. After a short bus ride down the street, I suddenly noticed a higher number of people with darker skin, people asking for change, and young children playing in the streets. I was incredibly uncomfortable that I did not know this part of Israel existed. We were standing in a circle listening to our tour guide when an older woman began to yell at our group. Later we found out that she was upset that gentrification and change was happening within her town.”
The people with darker skin that I mentioned in my journal entry were immigrants and refugees from Eritrea and Sudan. Prior to our tour of South Tel Aviv, I did not know that Eritrea was a country; I felt uneducated and small. I questioned how I could help the world when there are so many issues that I am not even aware of. In a few short hours, I learned about a new country and aspects of Israel that seem hidden from tourists.
Although shocking and overwhelming, I will continue to love Israel for not only its good parts, but also the parts that need a little help. I now have a greater desire to research, promote, and love.