Most of y’all are aware that this summer, from June 11-August 8th, I will be in Israel conducting research, taking classes, and trying to soak in this unbelievable opportunity. I will be keeping this blog updated while I am there, so please feel free to tune in and comment. I have some pretty big concerns about going, and one of them is loneliness. Most everyone who knows me knows that I am happiest when I am surrounded by those I love and care about (like most folks, I am sure). While I am confident I will get to know many fantastic people during my time abroad, there is no comfort like that of family and lifetime friends. Your comments will be read with the utmost sincerity and longing each day. Please write anything you would like (especially encouragement) as you read through my posts.
You might be wondering what exactly I’m “doing” over there…
I will try to break this journey down as sensibly as I can:
– I am entering my 3rd year in the pursuit of a PhD from the University of Georgia studying Human Development and Family Science (College of Family and Consumer Sciences). It’s a 5 year program, and I have completed the majority (while not all) of coursework in my program. During my first two years, I collected data that resulted in research findings that I am currently trying to publish in the Journal of Refugee Studies (will keep you updated on that, currently under peer review).
– I won’t dwell on this project, as you can read some about it in previous posts on this blog, but this process led me to the realization that I am passionate about refugees, their families, and being an advocate for them however I can through outreach, friendship, and research. Without the friendship I have gained from these families, I may not have mentally made it through my first two years of graduate school. I believe they have helped me so much more than I can ever help them, but this is where I find my passion to give back to them if I can…at all…by contributing to our collective community, national, and global awareness of their presence, needs, and contributions.
– In addition to my field of study, I will complete a certificate (kind of like an area of focus within my field) in Global Health through UGA’s College of Public Health. With this certificate came the opportunity to travel to Israel this summer, take two courses and collect research. Since I am the sole PhD student in this group, I will be conducting research in hospital settings, while the remaining 15 inspiring women in our group are pursuing their Master’s degrees and completing grueling, demanding internships with Israeli doctors in clinics and other public health settings. I am the only PhD student in addition to being the only non-Public-Health student in this group, which creates a unique opportunity for me to learn from the experts around me and bring this knowledge back to my own field of development and family studies.
– I will be living in Haifa, Israel, at the University of Haifa, in a dorm/apartment style setting with 3 roommates (who may or may not be from UGA, but will most likely be Israeli students attending summer classes at the University). Our university sits atop Mount Carmel, which is where the Bible recounts stories of Elijah praying to the Lord. The Lord made his presence known to Elijah and crowds atop this mountain after Elijah’s fervent prayers, and many were convinced to let go of their prophets and believe in the Lord. (at least, that’s pretty much how I interpret that reading in 1 Kings).
Staying in Touch:
– My phone number while I am overseas will be [ 011-972-50-709-2383 ]. I will have unlimited voice and text but you must text through this link. You cannot just “text” the number above, it just won’t work. You have to do it via Facebook. However, I have unlimited voice so good, old fashioned calling is completely great.
– Otherwise, I will be using Skype (Savannah Spivey), Facebook and Email (email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com) to communicate with everyone. I’ll be taking lots of pictures and trying to stay in touch as much as I can. However, my primary focus is to collect the best quality research I can without compromising any data.
– There is a 7 hour time difference. To see what time it is in Israel at any given time, visit here.
– My research journey for this trip actually began back in January, when this project began to take shape. Since then, I have received rigorous edits, feedback and ethical questioning from experts surrounding me in Athens, and from the Institutional Review Board (IRB – Human Subjects Ethics Board at UGA). After four months, two board review meetings where I was asked to defend much of the project’s details, and relentless tweaking and perfecting, this project was finally approved to be conducted in Israel by yours truly. The data I collect will be analyzed by myself and two professors on my committee. We aspire to present and publish the data within the next year.
– I will be traveling each weekday to hospitals in Northern Israel where I will basically be independently conducting research, getting to know the system, and doing whatever is asked of me. Collecting data from Healthcare Providers and Syrian Refugees will be my primary focus while at the hospitals. I’m collecting both interview and survey data. More on this project later.
– When I come back to Haifa each evening, I will reflect, journal, and catch up on emails.
I am nervous, yes, but I know deep down that this is something I have been granted the opportunity to experience, and I do believe there is a divine reason behind this plan. I appreciate your thoughts, vibes, and prayers to whomever or whatever you believe in. I know I will feel them. I also know the return home will be amazing but will bring its own bundle of challenges. Adjusting to what I know I will see in the hospitals and what I will hear through my research is a challenge I am unsure how to prepare for.
My fabulous and fun aunt and I will be doing some traveling in the south and middle of the country (Tel Aviv, Negev Dessert, Eilat, Petra and Jerusalem) for one week before my work begins. This will be an awesome way to start this trip, and I am so happy to travel with such a fun and open-minded family member.
I will miss so many things, babies being born here at home, birthdays, weddings, game nights, etc…and I am sad about that. I am also sad I will miss time with my Will. These are all reasons I also must go. So many families around the world are not able to find the peace to enjoy those same moments I am missing here at home in Georgia. While me not experiencing those things doesn’t mean others WILL get to, I contend that without awareness and advocacy for those in compromised and violent settings, families who deserve the same happiness will continue to slip between the cracks, forgotten and ignored.
Thus, I am off soon. And I hope to hear from you – however you choose to communicate (even if just in thought 🙂 ).