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Leading Young Americans to the Holy Land

Exploring the Vanq

During May, eight graduates of St. John's School in Houston, Texas joined JPB Co-Founder, Stuart Kensinger and his wife, Angie, for JPB's first American youth trip to the Holy Land.

Building on JPB's decades of experience with adult pilgrimages, the trip was designed to be an introductory interfaith encounter with the people, places, and issues in Israel and the West Bank that constitute one of the most pressing global conflict of their generation.

The young people visited important holy sites such as the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the Dome of the Rock along with places like Jaffa, Acre, Neve Tzedek, and the Dheishe refugee camp. They also met with the principal and students of the Hand in Hand School in Jerusalem, that brings together Jews and Arabs for learning.

A JPB graduate from Sts Tarkmanchatz Armenian School took the group on a personal tour of the Armenian Quarter (Vanq) in Jerusalem, introducing her friends and showing them daily life in a walled quarter of the Old City closed to outsiders. JPB families hosted the group in private homes for dinner and discussion.

These and other encounters offered them a collection of personal views of around life in Jerusalem, thereby equipping them to comprehend the multiple narratives of the region and conflict. With each day that passed, the group's questions became more insightful and animated. And they marveled at how different their experience was from their expectations and assumptions.

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