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Ice cream, trans-boundary team and a white wedding

On July 23rd the staff of the Arava Institute celebrated the end of the 2011-2012 academic year at our annual staff / family summer ice cream party in the Arava Institute research and visitors park. Everyone stepped up to the challenge of trying to finish the ice cream before it thoroughly melted in the summer desert heat. The staff, children of staff, and grandchildren of staff- the very youngest future environmental leaders (!) all enjoyed the cool and refreshing treat!

A group of international students from the United World College’s Arava Valley of Peace visited Kibbutz Ketura during the week of July 23rd. The students, ages 16 to 18, are from Israel, the West Bank, and all over Europe. The main focus of their three-week Israel trip is to learn about the Arava Valley, its geography, archaeology and ecology. As part of their stay, Sharón Benheim led some PELS type sessions, and Arava Institute intern Brian Hoefgen, led them on a hike up the mountain ridge directly behind the kibbutz. At the top of the ridge the students looked across at the Jordanian Mountains. What could be a better place to discuss the slogan of the Arava Institute, “Nature knows no borders”?

Miriam Meyers, an Arava Alumna from spring semester 2012 came back to visit the Institute for a few days at the end of July. Miriam reflected on her time at the Arava Institute:

“One strength of this program is that it creates a really unique group of individuals. We lived in a dynamic group of people who agreed on a lot of things, yet there were moments where I felt challenged, hurt or maybe even a bit worried about what people said. It is really amazing that we can all sit in the same room and be challenged by each other, but at the end of the day we are all classmates, co-workers, roommates and good friends. I came out of this program seeing things more closely from different perspectives. Through this program I met people and heard personal experiences and narratives across the political spectrum.”

Miriam grew up in a Jewish neighborhood in Potomac, Maryland. After finishing her B.S. in Soil Science at the University of Maryland, Miriam decided to do environmental work in Israel. Last spring semester Miriam worked with Dr. Tareq Abu Hamed in the Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation (CREEC). Knowing that the desert has a lot of sunshine and sand, Miriam worked on a project that applies soil conservation techniques in order to reduce dust collection on photovoltaic solar panels and improve their efficiency. She is now traveling in Israel and looking for new opportunities while remaining involved with her project here in the Arava.

Don’t forget to take a look at the most recent article written by David Lehrer and Dr. Clive Lipchin entitled “Israelis, Palestinians must cooperate now on the environment.” The article discusses the importance of trans-boundary resource management between Israel and the West Bank. Read the full article at +972 magazine: http://972mag.com/israelis-and-palestinians-must-cooperate-now-on-the-environment/52322/

We are happy to announce that a MERC (Middle East Regional Cooperation) proposal called Valuing Ecosystem Services Through a Multi-National, Multi-Cultural Lens has been approved and will commence in the coming months. In addition to being part of the Long Term Socio-Ecological Research platforms of Israel and Jordan, this interdisciplinary project combines ecology, sociology and economics. The goal of this project is to use ecosystem service assessment as a platform to integrate local stakeholders into land use policy making. The objective is to research whether people’s perceptions of ecosystem service provision mirror actual conditions in the field. The project will be managed by a Jordanian coordinator, and it will include three masters students in Israel and four research assistants in Jordan. The institute is currently accepting applicants for these positions.

AIES Alumna Tami Fishel got married at Bustan Abu Ghosh in the Jerusalem Hills on Wednesday August 8th! What a beautiful day it was! Ten AIES Alumni attended the ceremony and everybody enjoyed seeing their close friend shine on her wedding day. Both Tami and her husband Gily specialize in the field of Geology, so it seemed appropriate that there were many rock jokes throughout the evening. Congratulations to Tami and Gily!

On Tuesday August 14th our research intern Shmuel Willner met with Russell Robinson, the CEO of the JNF USA. They met in Tel Aviv to discuss the Negev Blueprint development plan and how it is estimated that 500,000 more people will be living in the Negev desert within the next decade. Shmuel Willner is Dr. Clive Lipchin’s intern and he is doing research with the Center for Trans-boundary Water Management. His research entails a detailed impact analysis of the proposed Med-Dead water conveyance project. The aim of this project is to transport water from the Mediterranean Sea to the Dead Sea in order to restore decreasing levels of the Dead Sea, while also generating hydro-electricity and freshwater via desalination for regional development.

The Arava Institute research department is now accepting applications for internships for this fall.  For more information or to apply for an internship, please contact Cathie Granit at cathie.granit@arava.org or check out: http://www.arava.org/cat.asp?catid=13&subcatid=95.

Thanks to Sarit Maagan-Rosenfeld, Miriam Meyers, Shmuel Willner and Brian Hoefgen for their pictures.

Miriam Sharton

Executive Director

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