Our day started at 0830 as we headed to the West Bank in Palestine to visit Al-Quds University in Abu Dis (Al Quds is Arabic for Jerusalem). When we arrived Dr. Mukhles Sowwan greeted us and invited us to join him for some coffee before beginning the tour. Arabic or Turkish coffee is very strong with a spicy/sweet flavor and is made like instant coffee, but instead of dissolving, it forms a thick clay-like substance on the bottom of the cup. Presumably it can be use for sculpting neat things for later. It was quite tasty.
The good doctor showed us his nanotechnology lab and explained some of his research involving cancer cells and using DNA molecules as conductors. It's the first and only nanotech lab in Palestine. We then went to listen to a biochemistry doctor explain his research involving aminols and fatty acids and leukemia and making rats happy and whatever. It was awesome. The key point of the lecture was when we learned that this doctor was working to be the first Palestinian to attain a patent. Palestine has no patent laws, and indeed minimal concerns for intellectual property. As such, he's forced to partner up with some scientists from abroad and to work through Israeli laws. Before leaving, we also visited Al Quds' mathematics and the Palestinian prisoners museum.
After lunch, we visited Old City Jerusalem. We walked Via Delorosa, which is a series of 15 spots pertaining to Jesus' crucifixion. It starts where Pontious Pilot orders him to be crucified and where he is given the cross. It continues to the spots where Jesus fell, where his mother saw him for the first time, where sweat was wiped from his forehead, and where he was nailed to the cross. The Church of Holy Sepulchre is the final stop where we were able to stick our hands in the hole in the rock where the cross sat and the tomb where he was supposedly buried. We also visited the Garden Tomb which is the second place people believe he may have been crucified and buried. This tomb was discovered in the 1860s. No matter if you are a believer or not, it is was an amazing experience because the area is filled with so much history.
Al in all it was an awesome day. We learned a lot about about Israeli and Palestinian culture and visited several very historical places.