Engineering for Peace in Israel 101

Hello!

For those of you who do not know me, my name is Jess Little. I am a graduating senior from Chemical Engineering at the University of Washington, and I am getting ready for my next step: an entry into the world of water engineering! However, it is not just water engineering that I am interested in. I am excited about its application to peace building and conflict resolution. Let me tell you my story.

I have been around water my entire life, and have valued this precious resource from a young age. In 2011, I traveled to Israel via Birthright. It was an incredible experience that fundamentally changed my life by allowing me to talk with people who live with the constant threat of political violence and an attitude of defensiveness. While there, I saw that climate change, dwindling freshwater resources, and increasing population were only going to make the political situation worse. It dawned on me that the common problem of water shortage could be used to bring people together to work towards a common solution. Thus, an idea was born: water engineering for peace.

Last summer, I traveled to Jordan to study water management and engineering in the context of the climate and socio-political issues of the region. It was there that I met Dr. Samer Talozi. While overlooking the Golan Heights, feeling contemplative, I described to him my desire to work at the intersection of water engineering and conflict resolution. As chance would have it, he knew a place where people did just that: Arava Institute for Environmental Studies (AIES).

AIES is a research institute in Israel dedicated to bringing students together, using environmental study and innovative engineering research to create a new generation of environmental leaders. In my mind, the most exciting part is that students come from Israel, Palestine, Jordan, and all over the world to work, live, and learn together. There are even weekly Peace-Building and Environmental Leadership Seminars! I applied for an internship and was accepted! From next September to January, I will be interning at the AIES Center for Trans-Boundary Water Management (CTWM). I will be working on decentralized wastewater treatment and reuse for rural communities and their applications to peace building! I am so excited to get to apply my education towards meaningful work that I am passionate about.

Here is the thing: the internship is unpaid. In fact, I have to pay for it. My internship fees are $3,550, due July 29th, 2014. I hope to make around $3,000 this summer, but it will not be in time to cover all of these fees. This is an incredible opportunity for me, and I consider it an investment in my career as I explore how to promote positive socio-political change through engineering.

After my internship ends in early January, I plan to spent some time traveling around the Middle East, getting more acquainted with the local beliefs, attitudes, perceptions, and conflicts surrounding water use and the political conflicts. I hope to meet with leaders in the peace-building field, including Eliyahu McLean, the director of Jerusalem Peacemakers. My current plan is to spend some time traveling around Israel with my mom (who has never been to the Middle East before!) before taking a quick jaunt over to Petra in Jordan. After returning from that, I plan to fly to Turkey. My plans there include exploring the Anatalya province, Cappadocia region, and Istanbul. Having grown up around Sufism, I also want to go to Rumi’s tomb and spend some time with some local Sufis!

This is the trip of a lifetime for me. I want to start my post-grad life in the way that I want to live my life, and any support that you can provide would be much appreciated.

Much love,
Jess

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Organizer

Jess Little 
Organizer
Sammamish, WA
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