On Monday, September 14, 2015 the Youth Exchange Programme of the Public Relations Department at An-Najah (Zajel) concluded its 3rd international skills development voluntary camp which focused on developing students’ extra-curricular skills.
The programme included learning English and French vocabulary through songs, learning English conversation and developing communication skills with European academic institutions and building competency to merge in the work field as well as developing public speaking skills. The programme included workshops held by international volunteers from the US, France, Algeria, Bosnia and Hersek, the UK and New Zealand and were attended by around a hundred An-Najah students.
The programme included field trips to the cities of Hebron, Bethlehem and the Old City in Nablus in addition to a number of Palestinian refugee camps and the villages of Inabata, Duma, Wadi Al-Badhan and the Samaritans. Zajel also organized cultural field trips to the lands of 1948 where they visited the Village of Ein Hod, Wadi Nisnas, the Old City in Acre, the Apartheid Wall and Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
The programme also included a number of workshops and seminars to introduce the international volunteers to Palestinian political and social situations. These workshops shed light on human rights institutions in Palestine, the effects of the Israeli occupation on education, defending the threatened lands of confiscation in the city of Bethlehem and analysis of the political future of Palestine with regards to regional and world changes.
The programme’s international volunteers were also in touch with An-Najah volunteers, local residents and social activists who introduced them to the historical periods that Palestinians went through. As part of the cultural exchange, some international volunteers presented on their heritage, language and cultures including Bosnia and the Amazigh.
The field trips aimed at conveying a clearer image of the political conditions that Palestinian cities, villages and camps go through.
Volunteer Doritta Finkler from Germany said at the closing ceremony that “the Palestine that I have visited is far different from the one I hear about in Media. Life here is a combination of everything … students study at the university, people go to work, wedding and graduation ceremonies, markets are crowded with people and so on. The Palestinians are spirited with life and determination. We have learned a lot from your stories; how to shape the present and the future under the cruelest situations. You’re not alone; there are thousands out there who believe in your right in liberty and independence.”
Volunteer Awni Ellari said that he learned a lot from his volunteer experience as several different cultures interacted with the Palestinian culture. He mentioned that he it has improved his skills in communication and discussion on cultural and political issues and added that it shaped his character well, preparing him for the next stage of his life.
– It is worth mentioning that Zajel organizes voluntary work for the international volunteers on An-Najah Campuses in order to train the students develop their various skills which help them shape their characters and prepare them for the work field.
– The human rights intuitions that participated in the workshops are the World Council of Churches, the Christian Peacemaker Teams and the International Observers in Hebron.