When the Zajel email landed in my inbox sometime in March I felt it was not a random mistake. I decided to seize the opportunity to really find out what all the ‘fuss’ was about. I set about trying to educate myself about the history of 1948 and the 1967 and understand the complexities of the current situation. However, nothing could really have prepared me for what I experienced in my two weeks in Palestine.
Teaching at An-Najah University was a fantastic experience, with students eager to learn from me and the other international volunteers. My students symbolised the complexities of the Palestinian struggle against occupation; some were optimistic about the future and could envisage a day where they would live in peace and freedom, others expressed a more fatalistic attitude. Bit by bit I was beginning to realize what life is really like under occupation, and in truth it can be unbearable.
I believe that in some small way I and the other international volunteers were working towards empowerment of the students at An-Najah which at the very least may inspire them to develop a true sense of their own agency in life. I also firmly believe that education is the most powerful weapon in the struggle for justice and freedom. I hope that I can carry with me the memories of Nablus, Jerusalem, Hebron and Bethlehem and the people I encountered there who showed me that hope, resilience forgiveness and love can transcend any boundaries.