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Israel Day 2: Schools, grottoes, cows, and Purim!

Jessica Shi, student blogger

Our day started off with a delicious breakfast spread from the hotel accompanied with a beautiful view from the balcony. We visited two high schools today; in the first school, we listened to a final presentation for two seniors on the topic of cultural differences in hand gestures throughout the entire world and freestyle debated the question of vegetarianism as a way to introduce certain clubs our schools had to offer. At the second school, we were treated with pita bread with zaatar and sesame seeds on top and played "must-know" Israeli games. We taught them American dances and American meme culture, and in return they taught us Israeli dances and Israeli meme culture. Their break starts next week!

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We then headed to lunch and four of our Israeli friends joined us. Before heading to the Rosh HaNikra grottoes, we visited the Israel-Lebanon border and briefly learned about the current political tensions between the two countries and the history behind these tensions.

At the grottoes, we were able to ride the steepest cable car in the Middle East down to a short video explaining how these grottoes were naturally formed. As these large rocks consist of both chalk and flint, they are easily shaped and molded by external forces such as crashing waves. The view was incredible.

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We also went to a dairy farm where we fed baby cows and milked adult cows. However, the main attraction was a robotic milk machine that would automatically milk cows. The cows know to enter the machine (as they are lured with food) and the machine uses lasers to sense where the udders are and where to place the machine in relation to the cow. We could all tell there was clearly an immense amount of thought placed into designing the milking machine, such as sensing when a cow is sick or not, however there were certain inevitable issues that could not be avoided. These issues, although inevitable, were brought up and as STEM students, we were excited to see if we would be able to find a solution for these automated milking machines in our future careers. Emphasis was placed on how the Israeli do not have much to work with, but they are proud in becoming sufficient in what they need.

To end the day, we attended a traditional Purim celebration with our Israeli friends. There was food, music, and dancing! The celebration was definitely different than regular American celebrations; at the end of the day, we were happy to take part in this celebration and learn about new cultures and new ideas.