2015 Middle East Trip Applications

The 2017 applications are open!

Submit applications by January 12, 2017

(Trip takes place July 23rd to August 11th)

To apply please: 1) email your responses to the below questions, 2) fill out a brief online registration (see below), 3) submit two letters of recommendation. After your submission and application review, you will be contacted for a brief interview.

See trip information in the last section below

Note: Participation in the OTI Club Chapter is necessary if you are interested in attending the trip. 

*Early applications are highly encouraged. (You may submit the written portions before winter break and letters of recommendation can be submitted in January). 

**Demonstrating you are an active OTI student by participating in activities (such as the fundraiser listed below) will be taken into account upon review of your application

Online Registration 

 Please fill out the online registration HERE

You must submit this brief registration in order to process your application. The registration will ask for your mailing address, email, related coursework you have taken, and your community involvement. 


Essay Questions

Please thoughtfully answer these questions and email your response to Shary at Sbmirand@uci.edu:

1. Why do you want to participate in the Olive Tree Initiative trip?  (250-400 words; please keep your responses concise and to the point.)

2. Students who participate in the OTI trip are sometimes referred to as “Student Diplomats.”   What personal and professional attributes might characterize a Student Diplomat? What sort of behavior, in – and outside of – scheduled meetings, should be typical of a Student Diplomat?  What characteristics make you a strong applicant in this regard?  What characteristics and behavior would you like to further develop in yourself? (250 words or less)

3. How do you approach communication with people who hold different beliefs, forms of worship, cultural practices and identity affiliations within your own cultural group(s)?  From other cultural groups? What are your intercultural communication strengths, as well as areas that might benefit from further growth and development? (300 words or less)

4. During your OTI trip experience, what issue would you most like to explore – or what question would you most like to have explained or answered? Describe your question/issue and why it is important to you. Furthermore, identify two people whose professional work has affected this topic, of whom you would like to ask that question or seek explanation, and describe the reasoning behind your choices. (300 words or less)

In addition to registering and submitting the essay responses you will need to attend an interview and submit the following: 

  • 2 letters of recommendation: 1 academic recommendation, e.g., from a professor or TA (excluding core OTI faculty); and 1 personal recommendation, e.g., from an employer, internship mentor, non-family member adult, club president, etc.)  If you have no current personal connections with TAs or professors, a letter of recommendation from a high school teacher may be submitted.  Recommenders should submit letters directly to the designated recipient on your campus (see next section), either electronically via email, or a hard copy in a sealed, signed envelope.

If regular mail is necessary, send to:

Olive Tree Initiative

c/o Susan Seely

3151 Social Science Plaza A

Irvine, CA 92697 

Student Trip Information

Dates: July 23 - August 11, 2017

(In addition, participants must be available for “boot camp” training, dates TBD - typically the week before the trip).

Destination: Washington D.C., New York City, Israel, the West Bank and Jordan

Cost per participant: $6,000 covering the cost of all airfare, transportation, food, lodging, insurances, and logistics for all program dates and activities.

After being selected, OTI student delegates may have a few select scholarship opportunities.

Additionally, participants are expected to work together to collectively fundraise for the trip. Whatever the student group cannot fundraise together, students must have the ability to cover themselves. There is a $250 non-refundable cash down-payment required from chosen participants as a demonstration of their commitment to participating in the program, as logistical costs must be booked far in advance (The deposit is applied to the cost of the trip). *There will be another deposit due to confirm your flight tickets.

The OTI trip itinerary consists of an intense schedule characterized by early morning start times and late evening end times with very few breaks. There will be numerous high-level meetings with officials; OTI expects its Student Diplomats to conduct themselves in a professional and diplomatic manner during the scheduled programming and throughout the trip. Though taxing, the trip will be very rewarding for those selected. 

The OTI trip application process is competitive; the most qualified students will be selected. Students must demonstrate excellent critical thinking skills, value experiential education, and enthusiastically challenge themselves in these areas. We encourage all students to apply. If you are not selected for this summer’s trip, you may have priority for selection on the next trip. 

Other Information

OTI Participants are Expected To:

  • Participate in the Campus Chapter Club
  • All UC students are eligible to enroll in a 4-unit graded course the quarter following the trip.


  • Participate in “Welcome Back Event:” community event where trip participants reflect on their trip experiences
  • Participate in follow-up OTI campus outreach events
  • Give back to the club in some way (mentor new students, assist with other events, take on a club leadership position, publicize OTI to the community)

Thank you for your interest and good luck with your application!


The OTI Team