What made me want to go? I wanted to see William Ury and Dr. Weiss interacting with and celebrating the fruits of their (and many others) labor on the Abraham Path. This project meant a lot to Dr. Weiss and I was intrigued from the moment he introduced it as a case study in the Master’s of Leadership and Negotiation program.
The Abraham Path has made an impact on the lives of so many people in the Middle East. I have only been privileged to have experienced the Palestinian part of the Path, yet the project has identified motivations for people to want to visit and appreciate the gems that are nestled throughout the entire Middle East.
What I thought it would be like? Truthfully, I was really unsure what it would be like. I was never afraid, because of my faith in why I was going and those I was traveling with. There is ten years of history with the Abraham Path and I trusted that the fundamental core of this project, faith and reverence of Abraham, would carry us safely through the journey.
What was it actually like? It was eye-opening and a land of contrasts. Breathtakingly beautiful in one sense, while painfully troubling in another. Gorgeous architecture and landscapes, amidst trash strewn about. The opportunity to leave, but the deep desire to stay. The freedom of one population juxtaposed by the limitation of another. The conflict was there and visible in many ways, but the beauty of the land and hospitality of the people cast a sense of hope throughout the journey. The experience of walking among the hills, valleys, and villages allowed me to think and process what I was experiencing.
My own family values are centered on togetherness, hospitality and giving. These are values that I saw firsthand on this trip. Our Palestinian hosts unselfishly gave more than what they had… something very impactful for me. Ury and Weiss revealed a key common human interest when they chose Abraham and his characteristic attributes of hospitality and brotherhood to bring everyone together including us, the visitors.
What perspective have I gained? The Abraham Path required true visionary leadership and a great amount of negotiation on many levels. The team and local partners should be commended for their efforts. As any visionary project, it will continue to require such leadership for years to come. I encourage everyone to make the journey along the Abraham Path and bring your own contribution and faith toward peace among all of God’s people, whoever your God may be. This trip has solidified my understanding that the people of the Middle East are our fellow brothers and sisters…struggling with a stigma of violence. This brings challenges for a safe and plentiful life. William Ury and Dr. Weiss have brought us all an opportunity to bridge the gap between faiths, friends and enemies.
Brotherhood is an Abrahamic tradition and it was quite apparent throughout our journey as we ate, slept and walked among those of different monotheistic religions. It reminds us to be respectful of others and appreciate the culture and diversity that make up this world. The Abraham Path Initiative (the entity that helped to start the Path) is a concrete example of what our Master’s in Leadership and Negotiation program was all about. It was truly a mastery of leadership and negotiation. I felt it was pivotal for me to experience this project and celebrate its success to complete my academic journey.