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From the Holy Land to the Garden State: Promoting Israeli-American Relations Through Student Exchange

October 02, 2012 – 

Four students from Beer Sheva, Israel will spend the week of October 7, 2012 in New Jersey to study social justice and activism on behalf of children and families, thanks to a new exchange program between Ben Gurion University (BGU) and Rutgers School of Law–Newark. The program brings together a diverse group of American and Israeli student leaders committed to transformative social change within their communities. 

The exchange program launched in March 2012 when Clinical Professor of Law Jennifer Rosen Valverde and eight Rutgers Law School students traveled to Israel to learn about the Israeli legal system and children’s rights and advocacy. Through lectures, visits to social service agencies and student-run programs for children and families as well as student-student interaction, the trip married abstract theory with practical fieldwork.

As was done in Israel, students will host students in their homes. BGU students will participate in discussions on child welfare, juvenile delinquency, education and special education, and immigration. They also will learn about various social service providers from visits to places including:

  • Wynona’s House, Newark
  • Arts Unbound, Orange
  • Rocking Horse Rehab, West Orange
  • Eva’s Village, Paterson
  • Essex County Juvenile Detention Center, Newark
  • Montclair Public Schools

Though the exchange represents an intense educational experience, Professor Valverde, aware that groundbreaking ideas are often nurtured through informal interactions, has built into the schedule time for the BGU students to enjoy events with their Rutgers hosts in New Jersey and New York City.

“The program fosters comparative study, increases cultural awareness, and forges partnerships, which prove invaluable as we teach and shape our future leaders,” said Professor Valverde. “By offering an experience through which students from both countries can connect, compare, reflect, share ideas, and brainstorm innovative ways of mobilizing support for social justice values and solutions, the exchange program allows ideas to expand beyond existing geographical and mental borders.”