"I went there with the
idea of the country that we get from television. People fighting and constantly at war.
But it turned out to be a lot like America."
-- UK student government
President James H. "Jimmy" Glenn
10, 2000 (Lexington, Ky.) Everyday
life and the news in Israel are more like America than youd think. Thats what
University of Kentucky Student Government President James H. Jimmy Glenn
learned during his recent visit to the country, often a hotbed of political and religious
went there with the idea of the country we get from television. People fighting and
constantly at war, said Glenn, a civil engineering senior
who is UKs first African-American student body president. But it turned out to
be a lot like America. You can venture into a McDonalds for a burger, the landscape
is beautiful, and the people are really normal, just like the average American.
visited Israel recently, along with 15 other university student body presidents from the
American Midwest, West and South. The students were selected to take part in a nine-day
travel seminar organized by Project Interchange, an educational institute of the American
was a great experience. I learned so much, Glenn said. You hear so much about
this region, but you cannot fully appreciate it until you experience the culture.
in Israel from Aug. 1 to 11, the intensive seminar offers participants an overview of
Israeli society and the many challenges facing it. The program included meetings with
government officials, academic experts and journalists and explored issues relating to
national politics, the Middle East peace process and the U.S.-Israel relationship. The
student body presidents met with Jewish and Arab student leaders and discussed matters of
concern on university campuses. Glenn said meeting such a diverse group of people helped
him gain a new perspective.
fighting and war is always a problem. There is a threat to them daily, he said.
Even though they realize that, they put that in the back of their minds and try to
live their lives as normally as they can.
local malls, Glenn said he and the other student presidents were shocked to see local
people of their ages dressed in military attire. In Israel, young adults serve in the army
before attending college.
To them, its no
big deal. Thats whats needed, Glenn said. You do that first, then
you can go to college. Seeing that makes you understand and appreciate their lives and
Interchanges broad-based, balanced program included visits to Jerusalem, Tel Aviv
and the West Bank. The delegation met with a representative of the Palestinian Authority
and with community leaders at an Arab village in northern Israel. In addition, the group
spent time in the Golan Heights, at an absorption center for new immigrants and at
Christian holy sites near the Sea of Galilee and in Bethlehem and Jerusalem.
was joined by student body presidents from universities in Alabama, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas,
Minnesota, Montana, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming. He is the son of Jim and Cornelia Glenn of Owensboro and is a graduate of Apollo High
School in Owensboro.
Interchange is a non-profit, non-political organization funded by private individuals and
foundations. The goal of Project Interchange travel seminars is to provide the opportunity
for Americas political, civic, ethnic and religious leaders to experience Israel
firsthand. The American Jewish Committee, Americas oldest human relations
organization, works to combat bigotry and to promote pluralism and tolerance in the United
States and abroad. Launched in August 1994, the annual student leadership seminar is
underwritten by Stanford M. Adelstein of Rapid City, S.D., with support from The Charles
and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation of Tulsa, Okla.