|Our last sunset in Israel|
|The view from our balcony the morning we left for the airport|
Laura and I have been back in the United States for one week now, and it feels so strange to be so far away from the people we met during our time in Israel. We are both very happy to see our families and friends, but there is definitely a sense of longing to spend time with the amazing people we met during our short 6 weeks in Israel.
By visiting as many places as we could where people with disabilities work and live, I believe that I was able to see how people with disabilities in a completely different society go about happy and meaningful lives. The framework of the laws and the opportunities for people with disabilities are not identical to the United States. By taking a 6-week peek into the culture of disability laws and disability services, I feel more appreciative of the power of community. Israel has a strong sense of community--I believe this is a driving force for the disability rights movement for Israeli citizens. By giving individuals as much self-advocacy as possible, the person's needs are more likely to be met.
When Laura and I attended the United Nations on Wednesday to overhear discussions on the rights of people with disabilities, it seemed as if self-advocacy is a huge goal. I remember various speakers from multiple countries mentioning how people with disabilities need to be given the resources to express what they want. Instead of having the government or other authority figures decide what is best for a person with a disability, every effort should be made to give that person the right to make his/her own decisions.
I also recognize that it will take me a long time to fully appreciate all of the experiences I had while in Israel. As time passes, I will learn more and more about people with disabilities in the United States and I will be able to reference my past experiences in Israel. I am so excited that the learning and synthesizing process does not end here!
Before I sign out of this blog for the last time, I would like to leave everyone with a video that the Commission for Equal Rights for Persons with Disabilities showed at the United Nations. It shows that when a group of people come together to fight for what is fair, the possibilities are inspiring.
CLICK HERE TO OPEN THE VIDEO IN YOUTUBE (English subtitles)