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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Students take up Carter’s challenge, cross borders

Published: February 5, 2010
Section: News

Students Crossing Boundaries (SCB) is beginning another year of pursuing personal experiences to help students understand and engage in international dialogue about conflict.

SCB was originally created in 2007 after former President Jimmy Carter spoke at Brandeis and challenged students to experience the Israeli-Palestinian conflict firsthand with the hope that it would give them insight to both sides of the conflict.

A year later, in February 2008, eleven Brandeis students traveled to Israel and the West Bank. After the success of the first trip, SCB has expanded to become a fellowship program centered on the Israel-Palestinian Territories and the United States-Mexico borders. Fellowships are student-driven, and last nearly a full calendar year.

During the spring semester, participants are chosen for the program and begin to prepare academically for the road ahead. Over the summer, students travel to the borders of either Israel and Palestine or Mexico and the United States. While there, they receive a stipend for living expenses provided by a fund set up by Carter while they intern at a local organization of their choice. Previous students have chosen organizations ranging from Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, to working against housing demolitions in Palestinian territories.

During the fall semester, students use what they have learned to incite discussions on campus and to educate the rest of the Brandeis community. Ten past SCB participants erected a cardboard checkpoint in Shapiro Campus Center this fall to represent the Israeli-Palestinian and United States-Mexican borders. They attached maps, photographs and stories to the checkpoint, and shared their summer experiences with other students in a question-and-answer session.

As part of the Israeli-Palestinian exchange, students from Al-Quds University, a Palestinian university, visited Brandeis last fall to promote the ultimate goal of understanding through knowledge.