Jun 19, 2018  By Owen Harrison  Category: Education,

Desert days in Israel on JNF trip remind student that water is life

Student Owen Harrison participated in JNF's latest Caravan for Democracy trip.

Owen Harrison, a student at Augsburg University in Minneapolis, participated in JNF's Caravan for Democracy Student Leadership Mission, a 10-day, fully subsidized trip to Israel for non-Jewish student leaders who've never been.

For most of my life, I've had the privilege of never to having to worry about water -- where it’s coming from, or if it will run out. However, that luxury has begun to change for many people. There's a growing water crisis: People living in South Africa are currently allotted 6 gallons of water a day; to put that into perspective, the average American uses between 80-100 gallons of water daily. 

On my recent trip to Israel, water was a constant thread throughout conversations in various parts of the country. We learned about drip irrigation and saw the Netafim plant, and we saw the Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean Sea. I find water so fascinating, as it's necessary for sustaining life and also incredibly beautiful. 

Netafim is the drip irrigation plant where they make the tubing that's installed all over Israel and various parts of the world. Netafim has installed drip irrigation systems from California to China, Russia to Brazil. Drip irrigation focuses on providing small amounts of water to each plant to reduce the amount of water wasted.

The Sea of Galilee was probably one of my favorite sights in Israel. It was a little foggy so when we stood on the rocks next to the water it felt like I was on the edge of the world. The Sea of Galilee provides a significant portion of the water supply to the area. This means that Israelis are acutely aware of the sea’s levels and highly conscious aware of the water they use. 

I was in Israel for New Year's, and I got up early on January 1 to walk three blocks to the Mediterranean Sea. I sat on the beach for about an hour and just watched the waves. Unlikely the Sea of Galilee, the Mediterranean Sea is turbulent and powerful. 

While in awe of the waves, I got to reflect on just how important water is and the power that it holds. Water is necessary for life to exist. It’s too easy to forget that our water supply is limited when it’s all around us, and it took 10 days in the desert for me to remember that. 

I want to express my gratitude to JNF and its Caravan for Democracy. It’s the trip of a lifetime that provides an opportunity to see the region and the space to engage in critical conversations.