Reflecting on my time spent at An-Najah is almost impossible
By: Jamie Doglas
Reflecting on my time spent at An-Najah National University and Palestine is almost impossible. Not because the itinerary wasn't full (it was, and then some more) and not because the people I met were not memorable (there are faces, names, students, volunteers and moments I'll never forget) but because the experiences of one day affected the conclusions I had made the day before.
It's difficult to write about something when your understanding of it changes so regularly. It's even more difficult when these experiences no longer exist in the abstract.
More than 20 internationals volunteered in the Camp through more than 160 training workshops that were dedicated to training the students on a wide spectrum of fields including: English conversation skills, public speaking skills, communication skills and capacity building. More than 300 students benefited from the Camp and the training it offered; the students described the experience as both rich and fun and that it helped them acquire new skills that developed their competency and made them better prepared to join the work field.
The internationals who participated in the Camp represented a wide range of nationalities and universities including: The University of Cambridge in the UK, University of Edinburgh in Scotland, University of Liverpool in the UK, the University of West Scotland in Scotland, University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, University of Vienna in Austria, the University of Lisbon in Portugal, Kyoto University in Japan, University of East Anglia in the UK, Hambold University in Berlin, University of Manchester in the UK, University of Seville in Spain, University of Bristol in the UK, University of Central Lancashire in the UK, Drexel University in the US, Georgetown University in the US and Coventry University in the UK.
Some things, like the standard of facilities and the level of multi-language skills at An-Najah will make my university colleagues very jealous. Other things, like leaving behind a group of friends at a check-point because Israeli 'security' decided no Palestinians enter that day make me wonder how the earth can still turn on its axis.
It's difficult to write about something when your understanding of it changes so regularly. It's even more difficult when experiences no longer exist in the abstract. "The Palestinian Struggle" is not some ideological/political/cultural/religious conflict happening thousands of miles away. It is my friend Ahmad not being able to travel to the UK to become an even better dentist or to see the places I am desperate to show him. It is my friend Naser looking after his parents, studying for his degree, and leading two international exchange camps at the same time all so his fellow students know there is life outside the apartheid they live in.
I will be going back to what is a comfortable life in Scotland. To a house that will only stop being mine if someone buys it; to a car I can drive on any roads its wheels can touch; to a university that will never be closed by the army in a town I will never have to complete a mountain trek to get to. And to eight hours of sleep I never expect to be interrupted by rocket fire.
Will I feel guilty about this when I go home? I expect so. Will I feel ill because these basic things I had never given a second thought to are not certain for the people I learned and laughed with? Every. Single. Day.