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Initially, the idea of travelling to Palestine seemed absurd and highly unlikely. The process of convincing my parents and my friend who I would be travelling with. When one signs up for a trip like this it is like driving into the unknown but it has proven to be a completely life-changing trip and experience.

By: Ben Cooper

With the Zajel programme, Zajel has seamlessly created a culture exchange between diverse cultures which has benefited everyone equally. As an English person it was so important to see the issues seen in the news contextualized and to have been shown the vital areas of the Palestinian problems which are hidden from the international community.

In addition to the serious topics we have seen and had lectures on, it has also been incredible to travel around Palestine to places such as Bethlehem, Hebron, Jerusalem, Jenin and Jericho. We have been to some of the holiest sites in the world and as a Christian it has been special, emotional and unforgettable. We have also been shown the wider Palestinian culture such as the food, music and dance. Our trip has been so varied between going to a wedding with 24 grooms and brides to evenings with our host families.

Although these experiences have been incredible and learning about the Palestinian problems have been very important to pass on our knowledge to pursue justice, our teaching seems to be the most impactful side of the trip. My workshop was on scholarships and applications to universities abroad and initially the first class was very daunting as there were 40 students wanting to apply to different countries with different levels of English and they clearly had very little knowledge about the process.

However, after the first lesson I was able to arrange a plan of action including teaching IELTS, personal statement writing and finding scholarships. Over the two weeks I was able to develop a real connection with the students who began telling me about their personal lives as well as sending me the extra work I have provided them with the broad range of skills needed to apply but I will only know whether my teaching has been successful if at least one is able to study abroad and to change their future. I have felt honoured and blessed to have met and helped so many amazing people.

The Palestinian people have been at most hospitable hosts and I have felt at home these two weeks.

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