Category Archives: Travel

Day hike at Half Moon Bay

Complete gallery viewed here.


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12 hour van ride+10 people+civil resistance=Jonah House, Baltimore

One of the two llamas roaming the 17th century cemetary, where Jonah House resides.

One of the two llamas roaming the 17th century cemetary, where Jonah House resides. (photo courtesy of Emily Thenhaus)

Over spring break, my Vincent and Louise housemates and I traveled to Baltimore to learn from Jonah House, an intentional community rooted in faith, nonviolence, social justice, and civil resistance. The week was spent in playing with the livestock that roamed the grounds, working in the garden, celebrating community and cultivating our house tenet of social justice.

Four women aged 60 and beyond and one gentleman in his late 20s make up the current Jonah House community. Amongst them is Liz McAllister, an early organizer of some of the major civil resistance movements that erupted in the 1960s. From burning Vietnam draft files to founding the anti-nuclear plowshare movement in the 1980s, all while working to abolish the death penalty in between, McAllister and Jonah House continue to put their faith into action.

Many of my housemates and I went into the experience weary and uncertain of what the week would entail. Yet wherever we were on the spectrum and however we felt about the mission of Jonah House, we all knew we would be challenged one way or another. Every night we reflected on our day’s experience, attempting to deconstruct our lived experiences amongst the backdrop of this radical, Christian lifestyle.

A lot of us left Jonah House with more questions than answers. Emmanual Garcia, one of my nine housemates appreciated having the time and opportunity to step outside of his life in Chicago and at DePaul to reflect on questions like, “how can I practice nonviolence when we live a violent culture?” and “how can I integrate what I’m learning here with what I want to do in life?”

This was my second time visiting Jonah House, and I’m still completely unsure of how I support to incorporate these experiences into my life.

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A Kibbutz experience in Israel

While  in Israel, I was introduced to a collective communal experience in Israel called a Kibbutz.

The heart of Jerusalem

The heart of Jerusalem

Traditionally, Kibbutzes were based agriculture with ties to socialism and Zionism. Back before Israel became a state in 1948, the Kibbutzes served as utopian driven movement formed by Aliyah immigrants to not only create a Jewish homeland, which at the time was Palestine, but to create a new type of society where all would be equal and free from exploition. Without considering the possibility of conflict between Jews and Arabs over the now contested land, Kibbutzes moved forth towards principals of equality and communal life amongst Jews and for political motivations towards state recognition of statehood. Nowadays, many Kibbutzes have strayed from some of their communist principles to keep up with Israel’s modern and rapidly moving economy.

The Israeli sound producer/editor that traveled with us in Israel (yikes, I’m blanking on his name) was raised on Kibbutz and was opening in sharing his experiences. Growing up in safe, trusting environment was a positive memory that he hopes to provide his future children. His Kibbutz, like many others, are still located on a large piece of land with anywhere from 5 to 100 famalies. Tasks, from farming and cleaning are shared and community events, like meals are emphasized.  Kibbutzes for the most part today are a traditional way of living for about 5% of Israelis that make practical economic sense, while providing a communal backdrop to raise families.

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Back, and bouncing back, from D.C.

I am relieved to back from D.C. The inauguration was phenomenal as I was able to sit in the ticketed orange section with a mere 250 feet separting me from the stage. The experience left me feeling so drained, testing my physical endurance and stealing any good sleep. For four days, I had to put aside all other priorities to stay focused on reporting for the SunTimes blog. However, this put a damper on my community, especially RJ, who I completely forgot to mention that I would be gone on our night to cook. Although I’m sure he was disappointed, he told me not to worry and that he had some extra help from other housemates. Still, I felt terrible that something like that slipped my mind. It was careless. So today, I bought some groceries and made RJ delicious stuffed green peppers. It was a good time to catch up with RJ while we cooked together. It was a good way to end a long, relaxing afternoon at the house.

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Reporting in DC for the Inauguration

(from right to left) Lindsey McElroy, Nicole Jones, John Kristoff, Craig Kanalley
(from right to left) Lindsey McElroy, Nicole Jones, John Kristoff, Craig Kanalley

Follow me and three other DePaul reporters for updated coverage in partnership with the Chicago Sun Times while in DC.

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ChiTown Daily reports on student media seminar in Israel

                A story about my trip to Israel published today in the Chitown Daily News.

Israeli Defense Soldiers at a West Bank checkpoint. Filming was now prohibited as the border recently became a securtiy threat with the growing conflict.








Near the fighting, but feeling far from it

BY PETER SACHS / Education reporter

January 09, 2009 | 1:00 PM

As a group of six college newspaper editors boarded their plane in Rome 10 days ago, bound for Tel Aviv, the news on the airport televisions was clear: The fighting between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip was intensifying.

Far from flying into the fighting, the students soon found themselves in a surreal place where the abnormal was the norm, people on the trip say.

“It was a big culture shock for them. They couldn’t imagine that they were 50 miles from this escalating military conflict and people were going to work,” says Ryan Patrick Morris, one of the trip’s organizers. “It was New Year’s Eve and people were going out, getting a beer.”

Morris, who is based in Washington, D.C., is a program associate for Project Interchange, which coordinated the weeklong trip. Six college newspaper editors, including Nicole Jones, the managing editor of DePaul University’s student newspaper, made the trip.

“It’s such a polarized issue, and especially coming from a really lively campus where it’s either, you’re pro-Palestine or pro-Israel, it seems like there’s no middle ground to have that conversation,” says Jones, editor of the DePaulia.

The trip was planned months in advance as a way for college editors to get a first-hand view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by meeting with academics, reporters and religious leaders on both sides of the conflict. The itinerary called for spending time in Sderot, a town in Israel just east of the border with the Gaza Strip, as well as other stops in the south of Israel.

“We had to go to Plan C, which was not going to the south at all,” Morris says. Instead, the group spent time in Tel Aviv before visiting the Golan Heights, near Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, as well as part of the West Bank and Jerusalem.

Jones says there were few obvious signs Israel was mounting an aggressive attack on Gaza.

“At first you don’t really feel it and it’s really shocking how much of a bubble Tel Aviv is in,” Jones says. “The slight things I did notice were security in cafes, (armed officers) checking your bags. Other than that, that’s it.”

While the fighting seemed far-off for the group it provided an invaluable backdrop for understanding tensions in Israel, Jones says.

Meeting with Israeli professors and journalists, among others, exposed Jones to a middle ground in the conflict that she says has often been missing from debates on the issue. One highlight for the group was a panel that included Russian Israeli reporter Ksenia Svetlova and Palestinian reporter Khaled Abu-Toameh.

“It was very interesting for them as journalists to hear these two journalists say, ‘Well, this is what we think is going on,’” Morris says.

He adds, “It was definitely a scary time, but it was much more exciting for them to be there as journalists at a time when history is unfolding.”

Jones says being able to talk with such a diversity of people on the trip, and not just hearing strongly pro-Israel or pro-Palestine voices, made the trip eye opening.

“Meeting these people face to face and being there on the ground totally changes your perspective and makes the world a lot smaller,” Jones says.

Peter Sachs is a Chicago-based journalist. He covers higher education for the Daily News


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