Wichita native studying abroad in Palestine is evacuated

By: Jordan Shefte Email
By: Jordan Shefte Email

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WICHITA, Kan. You've seen the reports out of the Middle East, thousands of people have been killed in the fights between Israel and Palestine. But one Wichita native didn't have to watch the news for updates, because he had a first hand view of the violence.

"It was a little more hairy, I seem to have really bad luck when I go anywhere," said Jared Ferris.

Ferris is getting his Masters degree in Middle Eastern Studies and traveled to the area to learn Arabic and experience the culture.

"I was there for a week before the three Israeli teenage settlers were kidnapped," Ferris said. "And that just kind of sparked a whole bit of unrest."

He says tension escalated, as Israel responded with home raids looking for suspects. Three separate times he was woken by raids.

"The first time was a little shell shocking," Ferris said. "We woke up, we hear these loud percussion bombs, and you hear people screaming and yelling and gunfire."

After the raids, tear gas canisters would be left right outside his apartment. The center of the violence is in Gaza, Jared was staying in West Bank so he didn't see the full extent of the war, but he was close enough to experience rocket fire.

"You could see those and you could hear those overhead," Jared said. "You hear a lot of commotion, and you hear a couple loud bangs and you look up and you see the two rockets had just been intercepted by the Israeli iron dome."

With protests growing larger in size and with the mounting death toll, it made the country too dangerous, and Jared was evacuated.

"I wasn't happy, I didn't feel like it was really merited," he said.

Because his trip ended two weeks early, he wasn't able to do some traveling he had planned on and he missed his final, meaning he might not get credit for the course. But he says these issues won't deter him from future travels.

"Oh it was worth it, I had a great experience," Ferris said.

Jared has been back for about a week now, and plans to finish his Masters degree in May.

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