SUNY New Paltz students return from Israeli disaster preparedness session


NEW PALTZ – Graduate students from
SUNY New Paltz and Ben Gurion University this month spent a weeklong workshop
in crisis counseling and psychological first aid.

The international partnership with the Institute for Disaster Mental Health
at New Paltz began when Ben Gurion University faculty Professor Richard
Isralowitz invited the New Paltz students and institute Director James
Halpern to Beer Sheva, Israel.

During the trip, students from both schools completed coursework in disaster
preparedness, response and recovery.

Graduate students take time
out to pose during their visit

The course included excursions to communities in conflict as well as
cultural sites like the Holocaust Museum and Jerusalem Old City. Students
were brought as close as possible to the villages on the Gaza border and
met with agency heads and officials from USAID in Tel Aviv, who were in
charge of mental health, children and other vulnerable populations.

Halpern said those towns have been regularly hit by rockets and are often
threatened with most of the people spending time in shelters.

“The class work completed at Ben Gurion University was an extraordinary,
unique and beneficial learning experience for me and my fellow SUNY students,”
said James DeArce.

Raya Truman, an Israeli student, called the workshop “one of the
most interesting courses I’ve learned in the M.A. program.”

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