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It’s been almost one month since I arrived in Palestine. I felt home from the ‎beginning, having a nice welcome everywhere I go and being part of the family ‎in The Tent of Nations (Palestinian farm near Bethlehem). Nablus experience ‎continued in the same way, full of smiles and welcomes, and as the most ‎hospitable place ever‏.‏

By: Mariana Espinoza

I am trying to remember the image that I had of Palestine before coming. I have ‎to do a jump to long time ago. The first memory that I have is being a child – ‎now I know that it must be in the year of the 2002 during the 2nd Intifada-, in ‎my grandparents flat; there was a newspaper with a war image: a couple of guys ‎with a ‘kuffiyeh’ holding guns, with ruins as a background (it could be in ‎Nablus). I asked my dad about that picture. He told me that it was far away – ‎nowadays I can place it in a straight line from my hometown and know that we ‎share the sea- and that it will never end. First part of the answer made me feel ‎calm; however, the second one made born another question: why – and how- ‎could be a forever conflict‏?‏

Here I am, 15 years after the birthday of this question. I am not looking for an ‎answer, just trying to build my own opinion far away from media. I came here ‎to listen and meet stories but also, and as the most important, know this people ‎that is behind every story. And this is what I found everything during Zajel ‎program. I met people that could be me. Many interests in common and similar ‎ways to have fun. I grew up in every experience that I shared. An interesting ‎example can be workshops –in my case the Audiovisual and multimedia-, where ‎I had the chance to talk and discuss about many topics in a small group of ‎students. ‎

Currently I am focusing my studies to peace journalism, because I am very ‎interested in the way how people explain their own stories about a fact –usually ‎thorough media. In that way, was amazing to discuss with the students what ‎story they wanted to explain in a video, having as a starting point that this will ‎be a way to show internationally their own point of view as a Palestinians. ‎

The topic of my group was ‘Rise your voice’ and we were discussing a lot ‎about ways to show the students opinion in front of the world. Words like ‎‎‘respect’, ‘freedom’ and ‘change’ came out. But also some peaceful examples of ‎fight against occupation‏.‏

My reflection after this month, and specifically these two weeks in Nablus doing ‎Zajel program, is that people love people. Far away from the name of power, ‎nowadays the rule of politicians, people can understand each other. We have ‎more things in common than differences –and usually, as I saw with volunteers ‎from An-Najah University, what we have different can also be a lesson as a new ‎point of view of anything‏.‏

Let’s change the question: what can I do to contribute positively at the end of ‎this conflicts‏?‏‎ My answer: and as volunteers from Zajel programme have said, is ‎that I have to talk about my experience in Palestine in my hometown; talk about ‎it to my family, my friends, the kids with whom I used to work and to other ‎people (classmates, workmates, neighbours...)‎‏.‏

In my opinion Media did a bad job creating an image of dangerous Palestina -‎that make it become "dangerous Palestinians"; I think that we must start thinking ‎in the difference between people and problems. Political – but also religious- ‎problems or misunderstandings can’t be a reason of people hating people. Let’s ‎throw the ‘enemy’ image and change destruction to build. As I saw here, ‎relationships with people from another culture (religion, language…) are a ‎positive interchange. The way to do a first step, as a personal opinion, is ‎meeting people and know every story. Meeting people and see that, even the ‎differences, we are all the same: human beings. In Nablus I met people who ‎love people and that there is a second home for me -also for everyone who is ‎going there in the name of peace and respect‏.

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