Education is the Most Powerful Weapon in the Struggle for Justice and Freedom
I have always thought how can someone align themselves with a struggle which they have no real investment in? I have always been sceptical of people from privileged (often Western) backgrounds who travel half way across the world to become involved in peace movements/ struggles for justice campaigns.
By: Natalia Rogers
I often think that their altruism is false and they are in fact fulfilling some selfish need to be seen as ‘good’ human beings. So, you may ask, what was my motivation for travelling to Palestine to become involved in Zajel’s Rays of Justice Programme? The honest answer to this question is that I was curious. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict has fleeted in and out of my life in a series of BBC news reports recounting death tolls and humanitarian aid efforts. I am ashamed to say that it has never really penetrated my consciousness and it has therefore been quite easy for me to look the other way or at best pontificate with platitudes.
Fifteen days after the launching of the activities of Zajel’s 11th International Volunteering Camp which was organized by the International Youth Exchange Program (Zajel) of the Public Relations Department at An-Najah National University. the Volunteering Camp was concluded successfully. A large number of international volunteers participated in the Camp from different countries around the world.
During our volunteering at the Camp, we prepared and administered the different training workshops for students who were trained on a variety of subjects including: Conversation skills in English, social media, English discourse, capacity building, as well as the international law and human rights. Students were trained on how to use the different features of these websites such as uploading, downloading and rating videos on Youtube, and how to follow and being followed by other users on Twitter. In addition to this, students were trained on body language, self-expression, story writing in English, how to write press questions, as well as changing stereotypes images and prejudgments.
Furthermore, a field trip was organized for us to the Old City in Hebron in order to familiarize with the social and economical situations that the Palestinians experience there. we were introduced to the different rehabilitation and restoration projects of old houses and building in the city, as well as the efforts made to encourage Palestinians to live in the city.
When the Zajel email landed in my inbox sometime in March I felt it was not a random mistake. I decided to seize the opportunity to really find out what all the question was about. I set about trying to educate myself about the history of 1948 and the 1967 and understand the complexities of the current situation. However, nothing could really have prepared me for what I experienced in my two weeks in Palestine.
Teaching at An-Najah University was a fantastic experience, with students eager to learn from me and the other international volunteers. My students symbolised the complexities of the Palestinian struggle against occupation; some were optimistic about the future and could envisage a day where they would live in peace and freedom, others expressed a more fatalistic attitude. Bit by bit I was beginning to realize what life is really like under occupation, and in truth it can be unbearable.
I believe that in some small way I and the other international volunteers were working towards empowerment of the students at An-Najah which at the very least may inspire them to develop a true sense of their own agency in life. I also firmly believe that education is the most powerful weapon in the struggle for justice and freedom. I hope that I can carry with me the memories of Nablus, Jerusalem, Hebron and Bethlehem and the people I encountered there who showed me that hope, resilience forgiveness and love can transcend any boundaries.