Sandusky grad finds peace in Israel
Alissa Widman Neese
Aug 20, 2014 at 12:40 PM
Turn on the television and experience Israel: the explosions, the riots, an atmosphere of fear and political unrest.
Travel across the globe, and the scene may appear a bit different: approachable people, modern culture and a safe, welcoming environment.
Kelli Market, 21, a 2011 Sandusky High School graduate, spent two weeks in the nation this summer with Christians United for Israel, the largest pro-Israel organization in the U.S.
She is one of just 35 college students nationwide who were selected to participate in the fully funded trip.
After returning to the U.S. this month, her first goal was to debunk the slew of circulating misinformation regarding the Middle Eastern nation.
"I have not once heard a siren, seen a rocket or experienced anything the media portrays, and I've been in every major Israeli city," Market said.
The traveling students visited a variety of religious, historical and political sites during their stay.
They experienced an archeological dig, and also met an engineer responsible for designing the security fence along Israel's West Bank.
Additionally, the group volunteered with Save a Child's Heart, an Israel-based nonprofit organization that provides children in third world countries with life-saving heart surgeries.
At times, the beautiful areas they explored seemed similar to a large U.S. city, Market said.
"Everything was so normal and day-to-day," she said. "Yes, they are in a war. You will see soldiers, at times. But even they were welcoming and helpful. It's not the strife most people expect."
Market is entering her third year as an education major at the University of Toledo, and founded a small Christians United for Israel student chapter at her university her freshman year.
She identities as Catholic, and has served as the Christian organization's president since its inception — an often challenging task, she said.
She is also president of the University of Toledo's College Republicans.
After graduation, Market hopes to return to Israel, either to visit or possibly to work for a few years.
Immersing herself in the culture responsible for her religion's roots has changed her life, she said.
"I think what I learned applies to life in general — you can't always believe what you hear," Market said. "If you take the time to find out for yourself, you might be pleasantly surprised by what you discover."