Student Life at MESP is based on the following pillars:
- Relationship building with student colleagues and other guests living at the Tantur Ecumenical Institute
- Relationship building with the locals--Muslim, Jewish, and Christian
- Spiritual as well as intellectual engagement with colleagues and locals. MESP cohorts are always a mixture of right and left, religiously and politically. As such, we try to be the iron that sharpens iron to one another.
- Required devotionals three days per week, and Sunday mornings open for worship experiences in the Jerusalem-Bethlehem area
- Mutual support for a rules covenant community committed to respecting the cultural and religious sensibilities of the local culture and one another
- Respect for the staff and facilities at Tantur, a Notre Dame managed facility safely located on a hilltop setting only minutes by bus from the Old City of Jerusalem and a short walk out the back door to Bethlehem
The MESP Covenant
Because the MESP cohort lives, studies, and travels together for most of the semester, it is bound by a rules covenant consistent with many CCCU campuses and with the local (conservative) religious culture. The rules include basics like dress codes appropriate for local standards, no smoking, drinking, or drugs, no dating, etc. Unlike many study abroad programs that warehouse students bent on party time, MESP maintains a reputation for students respectful of local cultural and religious standards. MESP takes it spiritual vocation seriously. For the rule specifics, see the rules covenant link.
During their time in Israel students reside in apartments near the program facility at Tantur Ecumenical Institute, a University of Notre Dame managed facility located in a Jerusalem suburb near Palestinian Bethlehem and Israeli Gilo. Apartments are equipped with full kitchens.
Travel & Safety
Due to constantly changing security situations in the Middle East, all travel plans for MESP are subject to change based on safety factors. The safety of MESP students and staff is primary. The director uses all available sources--locals, experienced expatriates, CCCU contacts, U.S. Diplomats--in order to assess safety conditions in Israel or wherever MESP travels. If travel to a certain region is cancelled, efforts will be made to create other opportunities that are safer yet equally valuable in terms of learning about the region.
Medical care in Israel is generally excellent by Western standards. Please note: PARTICIPANTS ARE EXPECTED TO COVER ANY MEDICAL EXPENSES WHICH MIGHT BE INCURRED AND SO MUST BE COVERED BY A FAMILY OR INSTITUTIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE POLICY. All students must obtain an iNext or International Student Identification Card which provides supplemental health insurance to cover certain needs unique to international situations.
MESP asks its students to stay off of Israeli busses as much as possible, and to ride the readily available Arab busses running back and forth between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Israeli Gilo and Palestinian Bethlehem are minutes away walking, and Jerusalem's Old City minutes away by bus. An Israeli train runs back and forth to Tel Aviv. Taxis tend to be more expensive, unless students pool rides.
The weather will be warm during most of the program. The summer months (May - August) can be particularly hot with little precipitation. Towards September it is cooler but still in the high 80s and 90s. October is cooler still, and November and December even cooler, with occasionally heavy precipitation in late November, December and January. In the winter months (January - March) it can be very cold - make sure to bring a heavy jacket (hopefully rainproof) for travel to locations with winter weather like Turkey.