University of Southern California

Student Life Blog

My Visit to the Holy Land

By Mollie Berg Tuesday, June 3, 2014

It’s day number five of my Taglit Birthright trip with USC Hillel. I’ve been to Israel before (when I was about fifteen years old), but this time is all the more exciting to be with forty other USC kids.

In fact, as I look around our bus, I notice that there are so many people I would have never met or talked to if not shoved on a bus with them and dragged from historic site to historic site around Israel. Everyone is so different—in majors, life experiences, and perspectives—that it is so interesting to listen to various opinions and life stories that differ from my own. I’ve never fully realized the meaning of the “Trojan family,” and I still see it to be kind of an overwhelming concept. But now, when there are forty people whom I have nothing in common with, I can remind myself: Hey, we do have something in common! We are all part of this so-called “Trojan family.” (Which is hard to forget considering USC students are VERY good at constantly wearing USC clothes abroad. It’s a talent, I swear).

Me and my friend Isabella Sayyah at the site of David Ben Gurion's grave

Me and my friend Isabella Sayyah at the site of David Ben Gurion’s grave

This experience has made me think about how so many of my relationships in college have been created by chance, or by partaking in activities I join on an impulse. While it’s nice to believe that friends are made in class or in the dining halls, I have realized that most of those that stuck were made by joining activities I would have never thought I would become involved in—whether it be on the editorial board for the Daily Trojan, joining a sorority, or even randomly accepting an invitation to join an anti-genocide club that I would have never known about if I hadn’t been in a certain place at a certain time. It’s all about chance—coincidental choices, trips, clubs—and joining things on a whim to see what great things could come from it. Thus, I cannot help but wonder what will come from my Israel trip. Only time will tell!

Me and a few other USC students on one of our first hikes

Me and a few other USC students on one of our first hikes

On another note, I’ve seen a lot of amazing things (and some strange things). I’ve been rafting in the Jordan River, eaten falafel in the  ancient religious city of Tzfat, and danced to Israeli music at a restaurant with Leah, the ridiculously happy Israeli restaurant owner. One of the greatest memories so far was when we were hiking and stumbled upon a cow that had just given birth (moments before we walked up).

Here are the cow and calf just after birth

The cow and calf just after birth

We watched as the calf attempted to take his first steps, falling often while trying to push his little legs up. The mom licked her baby as we watched, snapping pictures, and at one point, our presence in the intimate moment upset the mom and she almost came after us. Despite my near-death experience when the giant, angry and protective cow almost came after me, this was by far one of the most majestic moments of my life.

We’re on our way to Tel Aviv, now. We’re going to hear an Arab woman speak about her opinion on the Arab-Israeli conflict. After, we are touring the city, lounging on the beach, and hitting up the Tel Aviv night life. I am very much looking forward to seeing how this trip develops with my forty new USC friends!

See ya on the flip side, ‘Merica.