جامعة النجاح الوطنية
An-Najah National University

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By Simon Tarhag

Let us start with some of the fun stuff. Classes have begun, by that I mean that I am now ‎running the three workshops that will continue being held for the rest of my stay. And ‎they’re fantastic. Especially German and Parkour are an absolute blast, and I like to think ‎the students are having just as much fun as I am. Now, I would be teaching hour long ‎classes. But yeah, they’re great.

The students are attentive, very eager to participate, and ‎fearless to tackle some of the absurd pronunciations of the German language. Contrary to ‎the serious stare and serious students, there was lots of laughing that lesson.‎

The same can be said for parkour. Though the second lesson has left everyone, including ‎myself, nearly immobile the day after due to muscle sores, there have been few Parkour ‎classes I’ve enjoyed as much as I’ve enjoyed the first two here. The number of students for ‎both the German class and Parkour rose drastically the second time around, so I may be so ‎bold as to conclude that they are having fun too. Furthermore, the new campus (which really ‎is very new, and very large) has entire sections that consist only of concrete walls at various ‎angles and heights. It’s a traceur’s dream. Right now, we’re doing introductions to some of ‎the moves, how to land a precision, intro vaults, learning some of the terminology. Its nature ‎is all about getting around structure, so it can be a little odd trying to assign rules and bounds ‎to a discipline that’s meant to circumvent them, but hey, we’re doing our best. And our best is ‎looking pretty fine, I’d say. Complete with conditioning at the end, The evening saw ‎everyone exhausted, sweaty, but happy, I can’t wait to continue on with these lessons in ‎future.‎

Where much of the old city, though still beautiful in its own way, is a bustle of people, ‎the courtyards and passages here are largely empty, save a few children playing outside. ‎Outside, in the bustle of the markets, and the people traveling every which way, there are ‎hundreds of smells (not all pleasant) and things all around you, and a side effect of all ‎this commotion is a lot of waste that is often strewn over the floor. Also, much of the old ‎city has not been properly renovated since various parts of it were destroyed, both from ‎past earthquakes, and the intifadahs. Not so here in these living quarters. The funding for ‎the renovation of this quarter, for instance, came from other wealthy Arab sponsors, and ‎the result is, as seen above and below, beautiful. Instead of the makeshift bare concrete ‎walls that top off many houses in the old city (sometimes nothing more than a few ‎cinderblocks stacked on top of another, just so the people have a roof over their head ‎again), attention has been paid here to keep in style with the light but solid stone, neat ‎and sturdy angles, and the general look that has nothing ‘makeshift’ about it at all. It’s ‎very clean, very light, and colourful.‎

Next, we made our way back to the spice Bazaar, easily the place my mum was most ‎excited about. The old city has, so I learned, eight different sections, and over 50 such ‎small neighbourhood areas as the one pictured above. Just puts into perspective how little ‎of it I had seen so far. The head of the program here himself gave us the tour, and it’s a ‎great pleasure listening to the vast amount of knowledge he possesses. According to him, ‎even if one dedicates all day to the old city, the most one can truly see in detail is two of ‎the eight sections. By the evening, I totally believed him. I mean, I guess it makes sense, ‎with a city that’s between 2,000 to 3,000 years old. The obvious question that came to ‎mind, then, was “why the hell isn’t this a UNESCO world heritage site?” Turns out only ‎the Nativity Church in Bethlehem, the Old City of Jerusalem (and East Jerusalem), and ‎the Palestinian village of Battir are Palestinian heritage sites. In Germany, even 19th ‎century ironworks have a world heritage site sticker slapped onto them, but one of the ‎oldest cities in the world is not worthy? But fear not dear reader, at least the ‎Bauhaus/modern architecture section of Tel Aviv is UNESCO protected. Priorities, the ‎world has them. So why aren’t these places in Palestine protected?‎

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