As promised, here's the explanation of why I was a week late to school: I attended a two week academic seminar in Washington, DC, called Camp David III: Negotiating the Path to Israeli-Palestinian Peace. The program is coordinated by the Washington Center, which is an intern/educational organization separate from Ball State.
Overall, the program was super neat. We spent the first week and a half covering the history of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and the last three days in a peace negotiation simulation. For the simulation each of us represented a real person involved in the conflict. I was Tzipi Livni, who is an Israeli political leader. While the lectures and simulation were interesting, the real value in going to this conference, at least to me, was in hearing our guest lecturers. We went to several embassies in DC including the Israeli, Egyptian, and French embassies, and we went to the home of the Ambassador from Syria. We had speakers from the Israeli far left and far right, and speakers representing the Palestinian interests, even a speaker who studies Hamas. As far as equal representation goes, this program offers a remarkably balanced perspective of the conflict.
All in all, it was a great start to my last semester. The topic ties into my thesis, I met a bunch of really neat people, and I was able to get some travel time into my last year of college. Good times.