Pickup from Airport (can be arranged for $120 USD)
Lunch on Arrival & Departure Day
The Summer Encounter is our longest-running and most successful travel program. Participants are invited to discover Palestine through an immersive experience founded on three core principles: faith, culture, and justice. You are invited to join us for one of two back-to-back sessions taking place over the summer.
Based in the city of Bethlehem, participants are invited to live with a local host family; study Arabic with Palestinian teachers; and learn about the history, culture, and politics of the region through educational lectures and guided tours. Though a wide range of programming is provided to engage participants, those who join us will also have plenty of free time to learn and explore at their own pace. There will also be opportunities simply to relax and have fun with both fellow travelers and the new friends in Bethlehem that you will make along the way.
Holy Land Trust continues to update its curriculum to reflect the shifting realities on-the-ground. The political situation continues to change, and new research continues to shed light on the region's culture and history. As an organization, we push ourselves to keep the program relevant to the realities of the present-day.
Starting with Biblical times, the Summer Encounter explores different historical narratives from both religious and secular contexts, examining overlaps and discrepancies. From there, we examine how those narratives manifest in political realities on-the-ground for different groups.
The Holy Land is a land of diversity. While people oftentimes break this down into binary terms – Israeli/Palestinian – nothing could be further from the truth. On this land, we have Palestinian Arabs who belong to a multitude of religious identities – Muslim, Christian, Jewish, and others. There is an Armenian diaspora community with their own unique culture and language they have preserved overtime. There are Bedouin communities and Druze communities that have a very complex relationship within the settler colonial system. We also explore the complexity of the Jewish communities that came to settle on the land from far off places like Iran, Ethiopia, different parts of Europe and the former Soviet Union and how that interplay between these groups leads to interesting dynamics within the Israeli political system. Understanding the ways these groups of people have preserved their culture and heritage over time is crucial to how nonviolent resistance works within systems of oppression.
We organize meetings with the most significant humanitarian and political organizations in the region, including international, Israeli, and Palestinian NGOs. By doing so, we offer participants a broader understanding of the system of settler colonialism and its impact on the native communities. We also analyze the histories and tactics of both international and indigenous resistance movements seeking a just peace.
During your stay in the Holy Land, you will live with a local host family, creating a space where authentic and long-lasting relationships can be formed. In our experience, these relationships help foster within participants a lifelong commitment to pursuing justice more than any other component of the program. The homestays create an intimate environment where stories that might not otherwise be shared are given voice. Reading about Palestinian life or hearing lectures can be helpful, but living with a local family offers unparalleled insight into how ordinary Palestinians navigate the complexities and contradictions of life under Occupation.
Day 1: Arrival Day & Welcome Activity
Day 2: Orientation Day & Tour of Bethlehem
Day 3: Free Day
Day 4: Lecture (Palestinian – Israeli Conflict), Geo-Political tour of Bethlehem ( Wall & Refugee Camp)
Day 5: Guided tour of the Holocaust Museum & Tour of the expelled village of Lifta
Day 6: Lecture about Judaism by local Rabbi & Geopolitical tour of Jerusalem
Day 7: Lecture about Islam at the Omar Mosque
Day 8: Lecture about Christian Zionism & Palestinian film screening
Day 9: Free Day
Day 10: Worship with Local Palestinian Christian (Optional) & Lecture about the Christians of Palestine
Day 11: Nonviolence Workshop & Lecture on the history of the Intifadas
Day 12: Lessons on Palestinian Liberation Theology
Day 13: Community Project
Day 14: NGO meetings in Ramallah & Meet with PLO
Day 15: Community Project
Day 16: Free Day
Day 17: Hebron Old City Tour & International Observers
Day 18: Community Project
Day 19: Community Project
Day 20: Community Project
Day 21: Visit Bedouin Community in Negev Desert & Gaza Borders
Day 22: Tel Aviv NGO’s & Meetings with the Arab Israeli Minority
Day 23: Galilee Religious Sites & Visit Occupied Golan Heights
Day 24: Free Day
Day 25: Jordan Valley & Jericho Day Tour
Day 26: Community Project
Day 27: Community Project
Day 28: Non-Linear Leadership Workshop
Day 29: Evaluation and debriefing day
Day 30: Departure
After your in-depth, immersive tour through the Holy Land, you’ll find yourself with new experiences, relationships, and networks you didn’t have before. You’ll be equipped to go back into your communities and share in meaningful ways. You’ll be able to carry and honor the personal stories of the local communities. With a complete analysis compiled through a litany of meetings with the regions leading NGO voices, you’ll have a matrix of context for your individual journey.