Fall break always comes at the perfect time during the Princeton semester. Six weeks into classes, just as you’re getting into the swing of things for the school year, you are gifted a wonderful, seven-day break. Over this break, people do a variety of things. Many go home. Some travel to exotic locales as part of a class. Others go on trips with their clubs and friends. A few stay on campus to rest and recharge.
In the past, I’ve always returned home to Oregon for break. For me, it seemed like the best way to get the rest I needed. This year, I had a different plan: the opportunity to participate in a Jewish-Muslim dialogue hiking trip in Moab, Utah. Random right?! The idea of the trip, organized by the Center for Jewish Life, Muslim Life Program and Outdoor Action Program, was to promote mutual understanding between Jewish and Muslim students via a shared experience.
A total of twelve students took part – six Jewish and six Muslim. From the first day, the group had a great dynamic as everyone who came on the trip wanted to be there, wanted to ask difficult questions and wanted to learn. As we drove across Utah to start our first hike, I already felt that I’d made some lasting friends.
While it ended up being too cold to camp, each day featured amazing hikes. We were primarily exploring Arches National Park, a park known for its tremendous rock formations that take the shape of beautiful, natural arches. Each day, after many hours of hiking, we would head back to our motel to cook together, play games and continue the dialogue.
While I’d initially been nervous about doing something physical over my fall break, I’m so grateful that I took this unique trip, which featured conversations about subjects ranging from religious practices and holidays, to favorite sports teams, to highly charged political issues. While the trip itself was exhausting, I still came back feeling excited and reinvigorated — heartened by the productive conversations and new friends I’d made.