The most important answer sophomore Meghan Fitch learned while on a trip to Israel in January was that she didn’t know all the answers. Fitch, and 13 other students from universities across the United States, traveled to Israel as part of a program hosted by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) aimed at helping raise awareness about issues involving Israel and the Middle East.
“The trip challenged me to process a lot of information that is loaded with emotion and history. I had to remain skeptical while being open to the things I was experiencing,” Fitch said. “It takes much longer than a 10-day trip to Israel to understand the conflict in the Middle East.”
The trip was ADL’s 2nd Annual Current and Future Leaders Study Mission, which is designed to educate university campus leaders about the history of the Jewish people and the State of Israel as a modern democracy. The program also provides a firsthand perspective on news-making in Palestinian-Israeli relations. The student leaders met with Israeli government officials, Palestinian representatives, university students and working journalists, and they traveled to religious and historic sites.
One of the stops on the trip was Sderot, a city on the border of Gaza, which is bombed approximately twice a day. Houses, hotels and bus stops are all equipped with bomb shelters in case of an attack, and schools are surrounded by protective concrete walls. Fitch interviewed a resident who explained that the best way to deal with terrorism is to go on with everyday life despite living in constant fear.
“It was hard to comprehend the amount of hostility and underlying tension in places that are considered to be so holy,” Fitch said. “I witnessed the ugliness of warfare however it confirmed my dedication to live for peace.”
Fitch’s interest in social justice began in a world religions course taught by Amir Hussain, associate professor of theological studies. She became hyper-aware of the interconnectedness of world religions, social justice and the importance of understanding other people and cultures.
“LMU excels in providing its students with an outstanding education but it promotes spiritual reflection as well,” Fitch said. “I learned I have a purpose, and that’s why I continue to pursue my aspirations in social justice.”
Currently, Fitch is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in political science. Her ultimate goal is to become a U.S. State Senator. For now, however, she is content with taking life as it comes.
“My future is an open book, and I have faith that good things will happen if I am true to myself,” Fitch said. “I know I am most happy being a part of something greater than myself.”