Saturday, December 30, 2006

Why Jerusalem?

During the last of the semester at BYU, I talked to several students who expressed desire to go. When I asked them why they didn't apply, several of them told me that they had asked their parents, but their parents were too nervous about the situation.
Honestly, though I can see where they are coming from, the idea is completely foreign to me. My sister and I are really excited to go, and my parents even more so (if that's possible). I decided to ask my mom why she wasn't nervous about Rachel and I going to an area of the world that is still on the Federal Government's travel advisory list. She basically said this:
"People are afraid of the unknown. Your father and I have both been over there, as have your brother and sisters. We aren't nervous about your going because we know what it's like. The Jerusalem Center Students are very well liked and respected by the local community because they are respectful of local customs and traditions. They are good students and examples of how we should live our lives.
"Because the center is well established and the students are respected, there are good contacts to warn them of any potential problems or danger, so the students can avoid those areas that might be questionable, even on a daily basis.
"On top of all of that, the Brethren, BYU and local governments decided that now is the best time for students to go back, and I'm inclined to believe them. It's not that we love you less, it's just that we know the area and feel safe letting you go."
So I honestly think that, even though there are problems over in the Middle East, as long as we're smart and listen to the Center's directors, we shouldn't have any problems. Hopefully more people get convinced when we get back.

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Hey! Good Day!

Hello, my name is Matthew Thomas. My little sister and I were recently accepted to go to the BYU Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies during Winter Semester, 2008. When I found out, I realized I wanted other people to be able to benefit from this study abroad, and not just us. So I'll be keeping a regular blog during my time there. I'll let you at some pictures and hopefully we all get along :).
If we're lucky, we'll get to tell you about Jerusalem, Egypt, Galilee, Nazareth, Jericho, Sinai, and other areas. Check back on January 10th, assuming the conditions remain stable, we'll be flying into Tel Aviv airport then and I should have internet connection later in the day.

Until later then,
Matthew Thomas