جامعة النجاح الوطنية
An-Najah National University

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By Sedina Salin– USA

For the past two weeks, I have had the opportunity to join the Youth Exchange ‎Programme of the Public Relations Department at An-Najah (Zajel) that concluded its ‎‎3rd international skills development voluntary camp for the year 2015 which focused on ‎developing students’ extra-curricular skills.


The programme included learning English and French vocabulary through songs, learning ‎English conversation and developing communication skills with European academic ‎institutions and building competency to merge in the work field as well as developing ‎public speaking skills. The programme included workshops held by international ‎volunteers from the US, France, Algeria, Bosnia and Hersek, the UK and New Zealand ‎and were attended by around a hundred An-Najah students.‎

Prior to discovering the Zajel Student Exchange Program, I believed that Palestine was a ‎unmitigated military zone with no hope for the people who resided in it. This very idea ‎exists in the mind of many people in America and I decided for myself that experiencing ‎Palestine was the only way to dismiss projected misconceptions of this beautiful country. ‎My initial encounter of every activity or trip was to say the least shocking, each in their ‎own way. Conducting classes in the old and new campuses of An-Najah National ‎University was the most rewarding aspect. I was able to teach students a variety of topics ‎and in the process I simultaneously learned from them. I quickly learned throughout my ‎visits within the West Bank that each city has its own culture and struggle. The Old City ‎of Nablus was a lovely and educational experience, thanks to the local volunteers of An-‎Najah University. ‎

Hebron and Bethlehem were the most difficult due to the extreme level of military ‎occupation and apartheid wall presence. But regardless, it remains the most touching and ‎insightful trips. We were able to hear firsthand the stories everyday Palestinians face and ‎have faced due to the violence imposed by Israel. This perspective was a pivotal ‎component needed in order to understand the complexities within the Palestinian cause. ‎The pinnacle part of Palestine for me was interacting with the people. From the local ‎volunteers, University students, and the entire community. I have never felt so welcomed ‎in my entire life and all expectations of hospitality were surpassed. The generosity, ‎warmth, kindness, and congeniality were continuous to which I cannot express enough ‎gratitude for. My trip to Palestine will never be forgotten and I will make sure that one ‎day I will return.‎

One of my final trips was to the Old City of Jerusalem. This was one of my most ‎anticipated trips because of the holiness and spirituality that suppose to exist there. Being ‎Muslim, my objective in going was to enter Al-Aqsa Mosque for prayer. Once entering ‎the Old City, we found it nearly impossible to locate where the Mosque was within the ‎quarters. There were no maps, no signs, When we asked for help we either were told ‎‎"there is no Mosque, its closed" or we were maneuvered purposely to the opposite ‎direction. Once we remembered that Alaa told us the way to the Mosque was to "follow ‎your heart", we finally found it. The struggle to get in didn't end there, as we were ‎heavily questioned on the sincerity of being Muslims. Although once we finally entered, ‎we felt right at home. Our faces got brighter and our hearts opened up. We no longer felt ‎out of place and lost. It was inside the Mosque, praying, that I found something more ‎than spirituality and holiness. We all agreed that inside, we found a piece of ourselves.‎


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