After having her hopes for a trip to Spain let down by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Krista Jones, ’22, has her eyes set on a different travel abroad experience.
Beginning this month, Jones, a senior political science major from Stonington, Conn., will spend 10 weeks in Israel on a volunteer experience to better understand the area and the cultural and religious perspectives in the ongoing and complex Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“Going to a place of conflict is just going to be really eye-opening, said Jones. “I know I’m going to come back and probably have more questions and answers.”
Jones said she always had an interest in international relations and law, and the pandemic gave her some time to think about her future goals.
“As a student, I don’t think I was really considering what I wanted to do with my future career,” said Jones. “[The pandemic] gave me that chance to sort of pause and think about what I would actually want to accomplish through studying abroad.”
It was during her freshman and sophomore year that a class on genocide studies sparked her interest in the topic.
“I took this honor seminar with Dr. Armen Marsoobian and Professor Harlow called ‘Our Artistic Responses to Genocide,’ but I also read this book called ‘A Problem From Hell’ by Samantha Power. It really opens your eyes to how U.S. foreign policy has not helped and aided counties in effective ways during genocides and major atrocities.”
At the end of her sophomore year, Jones began interning for an organization called Genocide Watch, an opportunity she said wouldn’t have been possible without Southern.
According to its website, Genocide Watch exists to predict, prevent, stop, and punish genocide and other forms of mass murder, seeking to raise awareness and influence public policy concerning potential and actual genocide.
“The president of Genocide Watch ended up becoming a great mentor for me,” said Jones. “Even though it was all online because of COVID, I worked on initiatives for Afghanistan advocacy during the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.”
Israel and Palestine are both areas under genocide warnings, as Jews and Palestinians in the region are caught in the crossfire of the Israeli army and Palestinian terrorist groups.
She will be traveling with the faith-based organization Experience Mission, where she will be assigned to many different volunteer opportunities ranging from agricultural work in Palestine and Bethlehem, serving in soup kitchens, and working with disabled refugee children.
“It’s just important to know that there’s more beyond Connecticut, and what we see here [in Israel] are different ways of living,” said Jones.
As a practicing Christian, Jones is excited to see many sites of biblical significance, including Bethlehem and Jerusalem, as well as the Dead Sea on weekend excursions.
“Spain would have been cool, but I just felt like this is where I wanna go. This is what I’m incredibly interested in,” said Jones. “I’m gonna have the opportunity to learn a little bit of Arabic. All in no way becoming, you know, proficient or anything.”
Her final semester at Southern was a rewarding one, as she successfully defended her thesis in December before preparing to travel abroad this month.
“I would not have had this without Southern. The fact that I can do this at all in the last semester of my senior year is pretty rare,” said Jones. “It just shows how much the professors want you to achieve what you want to do.”
Southern’s political science majors immerse themselves in the study of government, public policy, and political culture. Along the way, they sharpen their skills in writing, communication, and complex analysis. Click here to learn more.