After spring semester ended, I was lucky enough to take part in a birthright trip to Israel. For 10 days, I traveled around the country with 40 other kids from the University of Miami’s Hillel. I had always heard that this trip was life changing but before I went, I was a total skeptic. Having lived through it, though, it definitely was a truly amazing experience.
As a part of the trip, our group was joined by eight Israeli soldiers currently serving in the army. Israelis are drafted into the army as soon as they finish high school, so these soldiers were all more or less our age. My time spent with these soldiers was the single most powerful experience of my life.
I spent a lot of time on the bus with a girl named Tal. As we talked, I quickly discovered that we have a lot in common – we are both 20, soft spoken, want to travel the world someday, and love “Friends” and “That ‘70s Show” – but just because she was born in Israel, she’s in the army while I attend college. I saw myself in Tal. If I had been born in Israel, I would be her.
There was also Yogev, who’s in the parachute division and dreams of being a chef and opening his own restaurant. And Dafna, shorter than my 5’2” self, the sweetest person ever, and an officer in the army. And Sachlav, lithe and blonde, whose job it is to train soldiers for combat. I thought we’d have nothing to talk about but in interacting with these soldiers, I learned that we truly are all the same. We may come from different worlds but at the core, we’re no different.
I think this is a valuable lesson to take into college. Just because someone seems different doesn’t mean they are. We all have things in common; the trick is to push yourself out of your comfort zone and find them.
Darci Miller is a New Yorker studying journalism and sport administration at the University of Miami. When she’s not writing for the school newspaper, you can find her at the gym, either working or working out. She loves all ‘80s pop culture (the cheesier the better!), and glues herself to her TV when the Olympics are on. She dreams big, and believes the sky’s the limit!