By Sara Dagher – France
Through my studies I have learned a lot of things about Palestine, I was born within a family which the Palestinian question is even more important than their own country. My mother always taught me to never forget the Palestinians and always fight for the Palestinians, I will never forget them and will always support them as long as I could. However, I wanted to have my own opinion, my perspective and my understanding of Palestine therefore I did my thesis about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict therefore I did a lot of research about the subject, I read a lot of interesting papers, articles, interviews, documentaries and books about the subject, when I finished my master degree and succeed my thesis, something was missing after all the research that I have done I said to myself: What now? Is that it, are you going to know Palestine only through books and articles? It wasn’t enough, so I googled ‘’ work or job offers in Palestine’’ and the first thing that came up was the website of Zajel program. I read everything, all the information available in the website and I found all what I needed for me it was the perfect program, it comprised of lectures, trips and workshops, everything to know and witness with your own eyes, this is when I decided to join the Zajel exchange program.
Then, when we arrived in Palestine, the first thing someone said to me was ‘Welcome Home’’ I didn’t realize it on my first day but soon enough I realized that home was Nablus. I had this weird and joyful feeling of being part of Palestine a feeling that cannot be explained with words, only coming in Palestine will make you feel and understand what it is like to come in this country. After a long and safe trip we arrived in Nablus and then we met all the volunteers local and international.
And then the students of Najah University. Then we got to work and prepare the workshops, Yvonne, Marta and me were in charge of the workshop ‘’Capacity Building’’. The seven workshops that we did together were very interesting, we have created good and strong relations and connections with the students in the workshops. we have helped them understand our culture whether it is French culture, Spanish culture or German culture and they helped us understand their culture, their struggles, their perspective. The students have become friends they welcomed us in their family but most of all they welcomed us in their hearts and we welcomed them in ours.
The first most impressive things for me was the students here, all very welcoming, very lovely people but mostly full of motivation and very dedicated people. At the university, the students that I’ve met outside the workshops and the people outside the university were very welcoming people, people always eager to learn our culture, always curious to know us and never afraid to speak, certainly you will never feel alone or lost at the university, there is always someone guiding you and feeling secured. The workshops helped me realize how the Palestinians students are full of talents and full of passion, and I realize they use education to fight, they use it as a strength and most of all they do not take as granted which is why they always work hard, they use education to make the world know that they are here, and they will never give up, they have ambitions and dreams. Being with Palestinian students every day made me realize that they are very much like us they dream of a future like us, they grow up and make mistakes like us, they live, laugh, love and fight when they fall like everybody else on this earth. Therefore, no one has the right to prevent such life, no one has authority over another person’s life and no one must let it happen. This is also why some of us decided to come, to witness and to support.
We did a lot of trips around Palestine, first we traveled around Nablus. Nablus is a beautiful city full of historical and cultural things to discover such as the soap factory, the food is also incredible. We also got to see a refugee camp, we learned the history of that refugee camp and the social conditions of the refugees. Then we went to Bethlehem, the guide told us all the information we needed about Palestine and also about the settlements in Palestine and what is the impact of the Palestinians living in Bethlehem.
Furthermore, we spent one night in the desert with the Bedouins, an experience I will never forget. The Bedouins were beyond welcoming, they offered us their food and showed us their magnificent sunrise in the desert which is unforgettable, every person in this earth has to experience such magical trip.
Eventually, we went to Hebron city, the most shocking experience of my life not because of the checkpoints and all the restrictions and the conditions of Palestinians in Hebron but because I have watched and read a lot of information about the situation in Hebron, the most shocking was to see it by your own eyes feel the pressure and imagining that it is happening to the Palestinians every day in Hebron and all of the sudden, some have troubles controlling their feelings and emotions and some cannot control their emotions and their sadness.
I will finish this overall reflections by saying to any volunteer or future volunteer who is reading this, if the volunteer who is at least concerned about the Palestinian cause or curious about Palestine, it is mandatory for the future volunteer to come in Palestine to see by him/herself to see by its own eyes Palestine. to see the conditions of Palestinians lives on their daily life but also to see the beauty of their country and how willing they are to fight for its beauty. It is necessary to understand them to understand their perspective, and break the silence about their conditions. Also, we are all responsible in a way or another, directly or indirectly, the Europeans, the French and the British helped put the chains of colonization in the hands of Palestinians who are completely left alone and nothing but themselves to rely on, as a human beings, as human beings living in democratic and free countries, you don’t need to fight just let them know that you are here for them. all you have to do is to reach out to them. It is crucial to support Palestinians rights, their right of movement, their right of freedom, their right to resist and the right to exist and we have to support as much as we can such as going in Palestine, talk to Palestinians and break the barrier between you and them, otherwise we can let the books say that we left the Palestinians in their misery or say that we were there, we supported and helped them against injustice, discrimination, humiliation and murder. How do you want History to judge you?