by Danah Kirsh

Before coming to the University of Illinois, I took a gap year in Israel on Nativ College Leadership Program. Of the many memories I made, one in particular stands out.

One of the most amazing times of my year spent living the life of an Israeli was when I was studying at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. One day, while taking a walk around campus, I stumbled upon this beautiful garden and met a man who was the groundskeeper.

He is a Muslim man and spoke very broken English. Yet, we were able to communicate. It was amazing to learn from him how his culture connected so much to Judaism and his experiences working for Hebrew University.

Then the groundskeeper invited me for tea; literally telling me to come to the garden every day to chat and have tea. What an incredible person I met who shared with me infinite wisdom and knowledge – all while we didn’t truly speak the same language.

When I think of this man, I am reminded that peace is possible. Despite barriers between us, people will always find ways to come together.