This Has Been a Great and Eye Opening Experience
After two weeks of the Zajel Youth camp of An-Najah University, I am extremely happy, satisfied and tired. We have learned so much through the camp, we have seen so many interesting things and met so many wonderful people.
By: Natali Rammel
The local volunteers were extremely friendly and always willing to help. They could be a bit over-protective at times, but it all comes from a good place. They just wanted us to feel happy and safe, and I am very grateful to have had the chance to get to know all of them.
We have visited several amazing places that have both been marked by history, politics and the conflict. The trip to Hebron gave a harsh but necessary insight into the hardships of the local Palestinian population and the injustice they face in the hands of the settlers.
Nablus is a great city and the schedule included trips to one of the city’s refugee camps, the Old City and several other nice places here. It would have been nice to spend some more time in the refugee camp and the old city, but the day off allowed us to explore the Old City by ourselves, which was extremely nice.
The workshops for me began as a large worry, but after the stress of the first workshop it became a great joy to meet the students and help them learn English through Western music. It helped that our class only had around 10 people. I am not sure I could have handled many more. I will truly miss my students and I will not be scared to take a similar opportunity in the future.
The general schedule of the trip was very extensive and included many interesting trips and visits. Keep in mind that when it says preliminary this means that it can change dramatically, and that the schedule that is sent out is only a small peek of what might come. The schedule was very busy and to constantly move around in the heat, getting new information and new impressions takes a lot of energy, both physically and mentally. It has therefore been important to take good care of myself - drinking lots of water, eating enough, sleeping enough and keeping my head in the right place. However, it has been great to have a chance to see so many things in such a small time, and the planning and scheduling has been so great. It is also great that the schedule allows for a day off if that is needed to gather energy or visit some things alone. This flexibility has been really nice.
The camp is very centered around the conflict and the occupation, which has helped me become much more aware of everything that goes on here. I could have used some more information on Palestinian culture, traditions and their uniqueness. We did have the chance to attend wedding party, visit a Bedouin camp and eat lots of local food (all of which was amazing), but I feel that there is much more to learn about Palestine. The conflict does occupy much of the life here and it is very understandable and good that they want to show us their hardships, as it can be hard to get accurate information on this from home. I therefore leave the camp much wiser about this than when I came.
All in all, this has been a great and eye opening experience! I would love to come back and revisit the many interesting places and wonderful people here. The locals have made such an effort making us all feel at home, and I am so grateful for everything they have done.