By: Haamid Salem
I learned a lot because living in England is very saturated – it`s either really bad or really good. Here there is a nice medium, even with all the problems, people make the most of what they have. I made a lot of friends. Most of our free time was spent with volunteers and internationals. The trip to Jerusalem as a whole was really nice. Visiting Al-Aqsa was the most meaningful for me. It was really overwhelming to go there. I went to the Dome of the Rock, which was so nice. Another part I loved was camping with the Bedouins and seeing the sunrise in the mountain, with a nice view.
I visited the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem. I love Nablus and its people, the weather, and the nice view, the Samaritans were very nice to us. This was the part that I was most interested in before coming here. Meeting the Palestinian Christians was interesting because they are more active than I expected.
I enjoyed the view at the desert a lot when I sat at the edge of the mountain. I learned about the Bedouins life and why they are in the tourism business and we played with the kids and jumped in the hay and rode in the back of a truck. I got some bumps and bruises because of the bumpy road.
I enjoyed the visit to Hebron and we met some international volunteers there and next to their place was a settlement. The roads were closed with settlers and all the closed shops and some still had the signs in Arabic. They weren’t even taken over, they were just left there, which I think is even worse, because it just makes it harder for merchants.
We couldn’t walk into the synagogue because we look Muslim, but we could go into the mosque so we just waited in the shop because we weren’t allowed to walk in the street. The mosque was really nice and we got there just in time for prayer, it looked really beautiful on the inside. I met some Croatian tourists and British tourists. Then we went to the sweet factory, which smelled so nice and learned about the economic pressures they have, such as the business restrictions and taxes. It’s been a learning experience.
A British volunteer was our instructor for meditation on the mountain. It was really calm and peaceful up there and the Dead Sea looked really nice. We were really excited to see the Banksy Museum and I’m so happy I got to see that. The artwork was really nice, my favorite was the statue with the tear gas and blades.