Why lead a student trip to Israel?
Leading a trip is great learning experience and resume-builder. It gives you hands-on experience crafting a program, raising money, and organizing and leading a group. It’s a great way to connect your school community with Israel, promote a nuanced understanding of Israel and the Middle East, and create a new, educated, engaged group stakeholders who feel invested in the region. It also will leave you, personally, with a long-lasting network of people to whom you’ve given something valuable.
How much work does it take to lead a student-led trek to Israel?
Every trek is different, depending on how ambitious you are, but it will at times require a serious time commitment. About seven months before the trek there will be an intensive period as you get started, pulling together a team of project leaders and planning the trip. You will be fully engaged again four months before the trip dealing with content and programming, logistics, and recruitment. About six weeks prior to departure, it will be hectic again as you prepare for departure: confirm all the plans, handle last minute changes, answer participant questions, and so on. Bottom line, as one experienced trip leader put it, “It’s well within reach, and the results, both for you personally and for the participants, make it well worth the effort.”
When do I need to get started?
For a trip scheduled during spring break, it’s best to get started in the fall, with your leadership team in place and tour provider selected by the beginning of October.
Does the trip need to be approved or sponsored by the university?
You do not need official approval and sponsorship, but you should inform the university (usually the Dean of Students’ office) of the trip, including information about its funders and sponsors, the students who will be traveling, dates and itinerary. Sometimes that university has connections that could be helpful (e.g., alumni network in Israel, local speakers or professors who can speak with the group pre-trip etc.)
What kind of support is available to help plan and organize the trip?
itrek is a nonprofit organization that provides a range of planning and support for student trip organizers at top graduate schools of law, business and public policy, including:
- Mentoring and advice from full time staff and former trip leaders
- Information about funds or subsidies for which your trip might qualify
- Advice about what has worked and hasn’t on previous student-led trips to Israel: itineraries, speakers, companies to visit, tour operators, hotels, and restaurants
- Help assessing tour operator bids
Combined with the in-depth information and templates on this web site, you’ll be able take advantage of best practices and streamline your process, leaving you time to focus on creating an itinerary that is uniquely your own.
Am I responsible for raising the money needed to support the trip?
itrek provides a range of significant subsidies for student-led trips at top graduate schools in business, law and public policy including fully-subsidized ground costs and airfare for trip leaders. See Funding Applications to learn more. Many trip leaders have also successfully raised additional funds without any special background or connections. You can do it too. Connect with a mentor through itrek for more information and advice on how to obtain outside funding for you trip.
Can I lead a trip if I’m not an Israeli and I don’t speak Hebrew?
The short answer is yes. While it’s ideal to have Hebrew-speaking Israelis among the trip leaders—their expertise and knowledge will be invaluable on the ground in Israel, especially should any problems arise—it’s not mandatory. Some trip leaders are Jewish Americans and some are non-Jews who’ve spent significant time in Israel. The important thing is that each trip leader has a strong personal motivation to be a trip leader and a personal connection to Israel.
TIP: If there are no Israelis on the leadership team, we strongly recommend that you invite a handful of Israeli peers to join the trip in Israel. Their personal experiences and perspectives are invaluable.
Who determines the itinerary?
Trip leaders decide the itinerary for their trip. The itinerary of your trip should reflect what’s important to the trip leaders, many of whom will be issuing a personal invitation to their peers to come see Israel through their eyes.
Should my trip promote a particular agenda?
No. Participants will get the most from a mosaic of experiences that conveys the myriad of different viewpoints surrounding Israel, enables participants to view Israel through different lenses, and invites diverse modes of engagement with Israel and its peoples.
Can I enjoy the trip or will I be too busy taking care of everyone else?
You will be traveling with a team of leaders and a tour guide, so there will be plenty of time to relax and enjoy along with the students you are leading.