I Have Been Feeling Myself Safe, Comfortable and At Home
I will try to be the more concise as possible but it might be difficult to resume all I think about this experience and all the emotions I have passed through. I can simply say that this trip was maybe the best trip I have ever done as it is for sure the richest.
By: Fanny – France
I know Palestine through the conflict that I studied and I keep following in the news. The reason why I chose Palestine for my volunteering was just as simple as the fact that I wanted to see with my own eyes how do the occupation looks like on the field, and how do Palestinian people live with it. So what have been so amazing for me was the discovery of the real Palestine, I mean what truly happens in Palestine, how does the country looks like, how are the people, how does the Israeli occupation affects their life and at what point, what do they think about this tragedy… all the things we cannot rely on the media to provide. I really appreciated the accent put on the political situation during the trip, through the daily activities or excursions: the visit of a refugee camp where we met children attending school and an old lady who was ten during the Nakba of 1948, the exchange on the political question of the occupation with a doctor of the university, the visit of Bethlehem and Hebron cities, and so on. It was all the more appreciable that we could feel a true effort to present the situation remaining as neutral and factual as possible.
Another point which makes this trip so amazing is the beauty of Palestine. The places we visited were genuine and wonderful. Among all the places I passed through, I would quote of course the night in the desert and the sunrise above the Dead Sea, which was an unforgettable moment of peace and serenity, far away from the excitation of my daily life in Europe. I would also quote the visit of the historical center of Bethlehem, the visit of Sabastya village and its awesome lunch at the restaurant, Nablus and its charming old city where we had a wonderful dinner on the rooftop of the restaurant, and I cannot forget its university with its very modern and attractive new campus. All these places and the moment we shared there made me enjoying Palestine. I am really sad to have missed the excursion at Jericho. But actually it is just a reason for coming back!
Eventually the thing which most struck me during this trip is the people I met, either students or not students. I have never been in a country where people are so welcoming and ready to help foreigners. I have never been in a country where people have such a hard past and accept to talk about it with me whereas we have been knowing each other for a few days or even minutes. Since the first time I stepped in Palestine on the 1st of July, I have been feeling myself safe, comfortable and at home. Zajel students try and succeed in making their best to welcome the international volunteers and have them feeling as well in Nablus as in their home country, whatever their age, their nationality or the language barrier. We assumed that such an organization must have been exhausting, but the students always keep smiling and engaging a conversation. Moreover, we were never alone. From the morning to the evening, students were here to escort us, to answer our questions and complete our request. Having a trip in these conditions allows to appreciate the situation all the more. We have never missed food neither water, and everything we needed was available in the following hours. And I also truly believe that being able to exchange so much with the students allows us to understand the country, its history, and its forthcoming challenges. It was really a chance to have the opportunity to exchange with such ease and proximity with local students.
The most difficult for me was the workshops. I applied for this camp with the aim to have a volunteering experience. I had never thought to be a teacher as I am still a student and I had never taught before. But when I arrived at the university, I was asked to lead the ice braking workshop with English beginners. But I was helped to design my first course and it went well. I really want to emphasize the role my wonderful coordinators of Zajel played during the workshops. They were very involved and supported me a lot, that helped me to feel more comfortable. I hope the students were happy with the workshops, in any case they cooperated and in that way they made each session more dynamic and more fun. Eventually, I am proud of having been able to face this challenge and this experience of teaching has been really enriching.
I would like to say so much about this trip but I have to end my report. I really want to congratulate all the team of Zajel Program, the workshops coordinators, the students of my workshops, all the people we met during the daily activities and excursions and who were so interesting, the bus driver, without forgetting the other international volunteers with whom I shared this unforgettable experience! Thank you all!