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Choosing Nablus-city to live for three weeks was the best unconscious decision to make a ‎break from university. Life revolves around local volunteers, families, students, inhabitants ‎and other international volunteers. I am glad not to see many footprints traces of tourists. ‎Apparently, a few dare to come from Bethlehem or Jerusalem, those who have enough ‎curiosity.

By: Aude Moug

Nablus-the-Beautiful will stay traditional for a long time. It is another way of life than in ‎Jerusalem-the-Holy, where lots of sellers are trying to attract you because you are a huge part ‎of their daily revenue. And it might be unfortunately quite the same in Bethlehem. After ‎passing by these two major cities, it was truly good to be home, in Nablus. ‎

The following week of my stay in the city was full of new discoveries, meeting of new people, ‎and a new timetable. I did not think I was able to teach or share my knowledge with interested ‎students, and that enabled me to discover new perspectives. How easy it is to make people ‎meet each other, and I am so thankful to all the ones who helped me in my personal and in my ‎future plan doubts and troubles! All this made me believe even more in them.‎

Another part of the culture chock was also pretty fascinating:

One entire life is not enough to deal with self-confidence, and to make even one single ‎hypothesis on the subject. When I feel jealous of travelers that “crossed” fifty different ‎countries (but in a way, they stay the same), and on the other side, when I compare my ‎passport with the blank one of the people here, I do not know where to sit. The notion I had ‎about rights and freedom changed over the last ten days. ‎

To be a volunteer and to give time to the locals (because they are interested to learn from you ‎and to teach you in return) is a personal way to travel. Compared to the classic back-packing ‎travelers, we are not going to visit lots of country in such a short period of time.‎

Because you need time to listen carefully and regularly to what is inside the heart of the ‎people, you need to get used to the life and the culture there, to meet a mother that lived the ‎double of the life of your own mother, to learn how to play Hand, to listen to the traditional ‎life of the Samaritan on the top of the mountain, to learn how to wake up at the good time ‎with a full-time adventurer and refugee, to talk about God with the taxi driver who brings you ‎home without extras, to smell almost every day the delicious spices and cakes in the covered ‎market, but the tainted meat on Friday, and to let birds express their songs in an empty and ‎old Amphitheater.‎

You also need time to learn more about the friends you met, and admit that some women in ‎Palestine want to stay at home and take care of everybody, organize meetings and having girl ‎conversations, whereas others are ready to fight and study hard for a long time.‎

Some men are commenting aloud girls’ looks or particularities (or they horn them, cause it is ‎the same thing) whereas other deeply respect their soul-sister from the cradle to the grave.‎

Some families promote freedom and travels for their children, and others cut the wings before ‎the big independent flight.‎

The people I observe all the time are always, always following a crucial rule: if they discovered ‎at least one foreign culture, if they stay open-minded and keep compassion towards each-‎others, there are far more chances that you will feel more comfortable with them, and that ‎they and you can adapt well with each other. ‎

Several times, cousins brought me home at night. And those nights, I loved having the feeling ‎that I am never alone, that the friends I made are the most respectful people, because they ‎have to deal with the day-to-day life in Palestine, work, families, dreams, history and politics… ‎Palestinians are so proud of their country, their food and their friendships, and at the same ‎time so worried about the reality of the political situation. ‎

On the way back from Ramallah to Nablus in the car, I’m looking at the landscape I will miss the ‎most, I breathe at the same tempo as the Adan (call for prayer) and the beautiful voice reading ‎the Holy Koran on the radio, and I smile from the inside at the old man praying next to me. ‎

Keep this in mind: if you are looking for something, search behind the mystery of life, search ‎for energies, feelings and love, lose your comfort and marks, change your environment or ‎your habits, observe others as you observe the tiny details of the landscape, and enjoy each ‎second of your time, as the Arabic community is teaching you to do so.

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