جامعة النجاح الوطنية
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I am Lyne from Luxemburg and I took part at the Zajel Youth Camp in Palestine for two weeks ‎full of profound experiences: Many Yallah's, group pictures, falafel, history, and many great ‎memories. I am very grateful for all the places I've got to see, the stories I've heard and the ‎friends I've made during my time here in Nablus. ‎

By: Lyne - Luxemburg

Every day was packed with many activities and the two weeks felt more like a whole month. ‎

In the next paragraphs, I'll try to describe how a day at the camp was roughly structured. In the ‎morning we had breakfast at the university campus, prepared our workshops and then took part ‎in an activity. We attended lectures on important topics such as the right to education and a ‎question-and-answer session on the political situation in Palestine. On other days we would visit ‎different institutions; the Samaritans, the Red Crescent and various companies in Nablus and its ‎surroundings. Everyone was very welcoming and shared their knowledge with us.‎

The visit of the New Campus was very exciting as we got to see the different faculties and ‎modern facilities. We had a big tour that we couldn't even finish because there was too much to ‎see. The Media Centre was very impressive to me. Every day they broadcast worldwide and ‎work on innovative concepts to create and distribute media content. I value their radio program, ‎were people can send in voice messages via WhatsApp for their family members in jail to hear ‎over the radio.‎

Balata refugee camp also made a lasting impression on me, and walking through the narrow ‎labyrinth streets made me quite emotional. We had the pleasure to meet a woman at the Yaffa ‎Culture Centre who talked to us about the history and future of the refugee camp. Overall I was ‎struck by the openness and courage with which the Palestinians talked about their hard past with ‎me, a stranger, they've only known for a short amount time.‎

After lunch at the university restaurant, socializing with students and leading the workshops ‎we'd take trips to cities or smaller villages like Ramallah, Jericho, and Sebastyia. In the evening ‎we had dinner at local restaurants. On the weekends we went on bigger trips to the Desert, ‎Bethlehem, Hebron and the Dead See in the Jordan Valley. ‎

I especially appreciated the visit to The Walled Off Museum by Banksy in Bethlehem. It's a very ‎informative, well-curated exhibition, which attracts and many tourists and gives a good overview ‎of the conflict. Another highlight for me personally was our afternoon in Sebastiya, a small ‎village near Nablus with many excavated remains of a Roman town and an amphitheatre. We ‎learned how to dance Dabka and were introduced to traditional music. Now I am seriously ‎thinking about starting my mornings with Fayrouz singer when I get home. ‎

Being in Palestine was like sweet-sour candy. In Palestine, everything comes together, the beauty ‎and the pain. I saw many breath-taking places; the sunset and sunrise in the desert, the oldest ‎olive tree, only a few meters away from the fence, and the stunning view on top of the mountain ‎overlooking Nablus, during a dinner with local students. But I also heard many stories, from the ‎not so distant past and the present, that shook me and made me more aware of the atrocities ‎Palestinians have to go through on the daily basis. Beside all the beauty and history it was sad to ‎see that double standards and racism reign in the Holy Land. ‎

I want to underline that during our excursions the locals were always eager to explain to us the ‎history and political situation of Palestine as fact-based and neutral as possible. So that the ‎internationals could make up their mind and form their own opinion about the various issues. ‎

What I loved the most was talking with other students and volunteers. The discussions we had, ‎gave me a lot of insight and I got to know more about their culture, their struggles, their passions ‎and what it means to be a young adult in Palestine. I enjoyed the interactions during the film ‎production workshop I held together with another international volunteer. Exchanging ideas, ‎inspirations and movies were fun and the students introduced me to some new films, which I am ‎eager to watch.‎

‎Leading a workshop was a challenge at first because I am not a teacher, but I eventually got used ‎to it. The students were all extremely patient, gave me a lot of input and were very forgiving ‎when it came to slight changes of plan or improvisations during our class. Although everything ‎turned out great, I wish I could have done more with the students or prepared better for every ‎single class. ‎

Do not be afraid to go to Palestine with the Zajel Youth Exchange Program to learn more about ‎the country and its people. During the whole time here, I always felt very safe and in great ‎company. The local students did take excellent care of the volunteers and made us feel like we ‎were some kind of precious goods. They were by our side from dawn till dark, always making ‎sure we had enough water with us and showing us around town. ‎

The only slightly unpleasant experiences during the two weeks were the Israeli security checks ‎and questioning at Tel Aviv airport, which framed the trip. But with a smile and high spirit, those ‎brackets were manageable and nothing to be too concerned about. ‎

I want to end this report with a big round of applause for the Zajel Youth Exchange group and ‎the students at the An-Najah University. The key reasons why this work camp was such a success ‎are the local volunteers and students, who all are so kind, intelligent and made me feel right at ‎home. I want to thank the coordinators of Zajel Program for their enormous efforts, behind and ‎on stage, and for creating this well-conducted symphony of new experiences for the international ‎volunteers.‎

Thank you for sharing the history of Palestine with us and raising awareness for the cause. From ‎now on that's what I actively try to do too.‎

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