Editor’s note: This is the part of a series featuring two participants of the Mosaic of Peace trip to Israel/Palestine, a Presbyterian Peacemaking conference running April 28-May 10. Read part one of the series here.
With travels to Europe, Africa and the U.S./Mexico border, as well as experience working with urban populations in Hollywood and Baltimore, Eva Hendrix-Shovlin is no stranger to exploring cultures different from her own.
She’ll have the chance to do so again in the next two weeks as she travels to the Holy Land as part of the Mosaic of Peace tour, a Presbyterian Peacemaking Program conference meeting in Israel/Palestine April 28-May 10.
“I’ve always been really interested in cross-cultural communication,” said Hendrix-Shovlin, a former Young Adult Volunteer who is now a case manager at a health clinic for homeless people in Baltimore.
When her mom, the Rev. Anita Hendrix — who is also going on the tour — told her about it, Hendrix-Shovlin didn’t think she’d be able to afford the trip. Even after earning scholarships, she still didn’t think she could take the time away from work.
But “once (the opportunity) was there, I couldn’t pass it up,” she said, adding that she’s enjoyed hearing reactions from clients when she tells them why she won’t be in the office for two weeks. She’s also gotten travel advice from co-workers who’ve been to the region.
“Once you step a little bit into this topic area, people begin coming out of the woodwork,” she said.
Hendrix-Shovlin acknowledges that she doesn’t know much about Israeli/Palestinian relations or the history of the conflict. But a visit from Palestinian Christian leader and writer Mitri Raheb to her church when she was a teenager sparked her interest.
She’s also appreciated the chance to talk with other young adults going on the trip in the months leading up to their departure; event organizers encouraged participants to join small groups to learn and prepare for their time in Israel/Palestine. Hendrix-Shovlin hopes to meet young adults in the region and hear from them as well.
“I’m hoping that we’ll get to connect with the youth or young adult perspective. I would like to think it’s more hopeful or progressive, but you can’t generalize,” she said. “I hope we can connect on a deeper level.”
Hendrix-Shovlin identifies herself as a micro-level thinker and is eager to hear and see individual voices and faces that can bring context to legislation and policies.
“We always ask, ‘Why?’ and sometimes there’s not a good answer,” she said.
As a member of a multicultural and mission-oriented church — Baltimore’s Hunting Ridge Presbyterian — Hendrix-Shovlin is excited to share her experiences in the Holy Land when she returns. She also has many friends — Christians and Jews — who feel ties to Israel and therefore don’t feel comfortable with some of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s policies concerning Israel/Palestine.
“I’m grateful for this opportunity,” she said. “It’ll be a definite game changer.”