I Felt Home from the Beginning
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.