Language is a powerful tool as we embark on our journey

Sociolinguistics Series: Part 38

Language is a powerful tool.


Alright, we have embarked on this adventure. We have landed in Tel Aviv at Ben-Gurion Airport, named after David Ben Gurion, the man regarded as the "founder of Israel" (he was also the first Prime Minister of Israel).

Right off the bat, we are reminded that we will see and hear things on this trip that 100% conflict with each other. We will hear things that may not be historically or archaeologically accurate at all. We will hear one person say one thing as his or her truth, and the next speaker say the exact opposite. This does not mean that one truth is any less true than another truth.

Everyone has their own truth that is absolutely true--to themselves. It is not our place to say that one truth is more or less true; rather, we are quite lucky to be in a position where so many people are willing to share their truths with us.

Our guide, Roni, is Jewish but married to a German Catholic woman. Our first bus driver, Hakkeim, is Arab-Israeli. Our second bus driver, Naseem, is from the Druze village, though I don't know if he is secular or religious. Our bodyguard, Na'ama, is in the Israeli Defense Forces (the Israel national army). Our leader from the Berkeley campus, Rabbi Adam, is very observant of his faith but more tolerant of other religions and beliefs than most people I've met.

Our group consists of people who are atheist, agnostic, spiritual, Christian, Catholic, Jewish, conservative, liberal, Libertarian, gay, straight, bi, queer, Asian, white, Indian, mixed, still confused and questioning--and everything in-between. It is one of the most diverse groups I have ever seen, even for Berkeley's campus. I can already tell that this is going to be an amazing group dynamic.

We are told to pay attention to the way each person uses language to convey a certain message. This will come into play with almost every word that is spoken.

We drive to Jerusalem upon landing in Tel Aviv. It's an extremely quick drive for cities that are on opposite sides of a country. This is a reminder of how physically small the area of land actually is. Israel and Palestine is the size of New Jersey, and it takes only about an hour for us to arrive at our hotel in Jerusalem.

My friend's mom told me before I left that the entire city of Jerusalem is built from the same type of stone: Jerusalem stone. It is beautiful. Regal. Shining. And all the buildings amaze me with their quiet majesty. We eat some sabich sandwiches (they have eggplant and egg and potato and other veggies) and settle in our rooms.

My roommate for our stay in this hotel is a Jewish girl named Elizabeth who has previously lived for a year in Israel. By the end of the trip, the few Jewish students in our group will have come to the conclusion that the Perspectives Trip has allowed them more introspection than any other trip to Israel has in the past. They've all been on Birthright and said that Perspectives is nothing like it; while Birthright is a celebration of their Jewishness, Perspectives gave them the chance to actually see, understand, and feel for all the other sides of this land's story.

For once, they went to Israel with non-Jewish people. They questioned their own previously held beliefs. They provided a perspective that I, as a non-Jewish student, would never have seen on my own.

That first night, a few friends from the group and I went to Ben Yehuda Street to explore the night markets. It was a hub of energy: people of all ages hopping around shops that were filled with eating, dancing, and laughing. I noticed that while most people spoke Hebrew, many also spoke Arabic and English; they were curious about where we were from but also extremely welcoming. I tried Rugelach, which is a buttery, chocolatey pastry resembling a mini croissant. SO yummy.

The next morning, we were met with Labneh (a sort of Middle Eastern/Greek yogurt thing?) and Za'atar (a Middle Eastern spice that is DELICIOUS) for breakfast--one of the best breakfasts I've ever tasted. We then, as the informal itinerary stated, "[viewed] the contours of Jerusalem from the Haas Promenade overlook." The Haas Promenade (and yes, it's named after the same Haas family that is the namesake for Berkeley's Haas School of Business) was this beautiful view of the entire city; from where we stood, we could see the Old City (with the Dome of the Rock/the Temple Mount/the Al-Aqsa Mosque), the many churches of Ascension (depending on which denomination or ethnic group built the church), the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and much, much more.

The view from the Haas Promenadetaken by Irene Yi

After that, we entered into the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem through Zion Gate. The name, Zion Gate, brings us not only a history lesson, but a linguistic lesson as well. This door is called Zion Gate by Jews, but it is called something different by Muslims: Baab an-Nabi Dawud (transliteration) or "Prophet David Gate" (translation to English).

Though this is a Jewish Quarter gate now, it still has Arabic calligraphy carved into its walls--a testimony of the coexistence that happens on a daily basis in this land.

The Old City of Jerusalem is one of the most holy sites in the world to three major religions: Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. Within its beautiful Jerusalem Stone walls, the Old City houses the Dome of the Rock/Al-Aqsa Mosque for Muslims, the Western Wall and Temple Mount for Jews, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for Christians, and many of the places where people believed Jesus walked (like the Baths of Bethesda) and the Virgin Mary was born.

There are eight gates in its walls, including Zion Gate/Prophet David Gate, New Gate, Damascus Gate (called Nablus Gate by Muslims), Herod's Gate, Lion's Gate (called Baab Sittna Maryam (or باب ستي مريم which translates to St. Mary's Gate) by Muslims and St. Stephen's Gate by Christians), Excavators' Gate, Dung Gate, Tanners' Gate, and Jaffa Gate (called Baab al-Khalil (Khalil means "friend") by Muslims).

As you can see, just from the names of the gates, the people living in the Old City already are affected by the language they and others use. This is not the only time that different groups of people will have different names for the same structure or event. Such is the life of coexistence.

In the next section, we will talk more about the history of the Old City, as well as what it is like today. See you next week!

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11 Must-Go To Day Trips In North Carolina

For the wanderers and curious...

It's finally summer, classes are out! There are so many things to do in this beautiful state. There are many small towns to visit. These towns are perfect day trips. From the mountains to the beach and everything in between, there is something for everyone! Pack your car up and get ready for a summer of adventure.

1. NoDa

This is a small hipster district right outside of Uptown Charlotte. Music and art paint this town and it has a very creative energy flow. Amelie’s Bakery, a 24/7 french bakery, is located in this district. There is always something fun and new to try in this cute, artistic town!

2. Asheville

This town is known for the beautiful scenery and historic importance. The Biltmore Estate is located here, and it is open for tours every day of the year. It is the biggest estate in America. The downtown area is very artistic, and the mountains make for a gorgeous hike. This is definitely an adventure you don't want to miss.

3. Boone

This small town has a lot of outdoor activities. It is perfect for hiking and whitewater rafting. If you love nature, this is a must see. It is a college town where Appalachian State University is located. The downtown area is very old school and for modern hipsters.

4. Crowders Mountain

This is located in Gaston County. Once you reach the Pinnacle, the peak of the trail, with clear skies you can see for miles. It is a quick four-mile hike for the short one, the view is amazing.

5. Wilmington

This city is known for the beachfront. It makes a perfect day to hit the waves. There are many beach fronts to visit, such as Carolina Beach. Cape Fear Ocean runs through this city. White sand, waves and the boardwalk. If you are a fan of One Tree Hill, it was filmed here.The small restaurants and characteristics give this town a vibrant energy.

6. Serendipity House

This house is from the movie Nights In Rodanthe located on a beach in Avon, North Carolina. It has been remodeled, but the amazing characteristics of this make it a sight to see.

7. Linville Falls

This is located in Linville, North Carolina. Attractions close by are also the Blue Ridge Mountain. To get to the main fall, it is about a mile hike.

8. Outer Banks

Small beaches on the outer banks of North Carolina have wild horses. Corolla Wild Ponies run free, and you can even take a ride on them in the water.

9. Sliding Rock

Located in Brevard, this rock is actually naturally made from a small waterfall. You can actually go sliding down it. It is in Pisgah National Forest also near Asheville.

10. Devil's Tramping Ground

This is located near Bennett. It is a 40-foot circle that cannot grow life. If you leave something or sleep in the circle, the rumor is it will be outside of the circle the next day.

11. Land of Oz Theme park

Located in Beech Mountain, this theme park that was once full of life is now closed and for the most part abandoned. It comes alive for one night a year for an event. This is definitely a place to take a night adventure to...

Cover Image Credit: Tumblr

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6 Reasons Traveling Is Good For Your Mind, Body, And Soul

Wherever you go, go with all your heart.


Have you ever traveled to a new destination and felt your mood instantly improve? Are you like me and feel happiest when you're on vacation? This is because traveling is a way for you to renew your soul and step out of your comfort zone. It keeps you happy and allows you to experience new things.

Visiting new destinations can open your mind to experiences you didn't even know were possible. You can meet new people, fall in love, try new foods, and see remarkable sites all while traveling. There are no limits to the places you can visit, and the things you can see. Currently, I am on a mini weekend trip to Arizona, and being here has opened my eyes and made me realize how impactful traveling really is on your mind, body, and soul. Traveling should be something you do as often as possible and whenever you get the chance. Here's why:

1. Traveling makes your heart happy 

Traveling is something that most people enjoy. It keeps the heart young and childlike. Traveling brings people joy because they get to experience new things that they love with the people they love.

2. It teaches you to embrace every moment 

Traveling can be unpredictable, especially because you are experiencing new things. Although it can be challenging, we learn best from these unpredictable moments. When we travel we learn to embrace every situation that is thrown at us.

3. Traveling relieves stress and improves mental health 

Traveling reduces stress and allows you to relax. More often than not, you take off work when you go on vacation and you focus on renewing your self. You get away from all the crazy things going on in your life, and you can just relax and focus on your own happiness.

4. It broadens your horizons 

Traveling lets you branch out and experience different cultures. You can try new foods, new activities, and meet all different types of people. You learn diversity, and you learn respect for other people and their culture's. Traveling helps you learn other perspectives around the world and lets your mind think in ways it never has before.

5. It keeps you healthy 

Traveling actually plays a big part in your physical health as well. During vacations, you often walk a lot to destinations and participate in calorie burning activities like hiking and swimming. Activities like these are often why you still are able to get your workout in while on vacation.

6. Traveling reminds you what is important 

Most importantly, traveling reminds you of the important things in life. We live day by day forgetting that every moment is remarkable. Sometimes, we get stuck in the same old boring routine and take for granted the life we have been given. Traveling reminds us that memories are valuable and that our lives should be cherished.

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