International Volunteers Reflections

September 2011

Jeske, Holland

"The occupation influences the daily lives of Palestinians in a horrible way. But it never breaks their spirits and hearts."

"The Palestinian students, volunteers, Zajel staff and the international participants have made this camp a wonderful experience. The reality you see in Palestine is one you wish did not exist. The occupation influences the daily life of Palestinians in a horrible way. But it never breaks their spirits and hearts. The people are incredibly welcoming and warm. After only knowing my new friends for two weeks, I will miss them when I return to Holland.

These two weeks have been intense, beautiful, sad, inspiring, painful, and were worth every cent I spent here. I am glad I participated, and I hope I will return and I will never forget the people and the experience.

Thank you Zajel and Palestine!"

Nerea, Spain

"I hope I will be one more voice and one more hand for shouting and reporting against all the attacks suffered by the Palestinians."

"When I decided to come to Palestine, I wasn't really sure about my choice, asking myself, 'Why this place?'

Now, with the end of the camp coming, I am sure about the mission that I have with Palestine: I hope I will be one more voice and one more hand for shouting and reporting against all attacks suffered by the Palestinians.

Thank you for letting me know your land and for opening the door to the truth for us. Western perceptions of the situation are very different.

Thank you for making me a more human person.

I'm sure I'll come back someday!"

Maria, Portugal

"One of the most extraordinary experiences I've had in my life."

"Being part of this program has been one of the most extraordinary experiences I've had in my life. In Palestine, I have found a unique kindness and an inspiring strength, even within the saddest realities.

Thank you!"

Irene, Spain

"This is a very interesting program because you can understand Palestinians' problems, exchange experiences, and make friends."

"Coming to Palestine made me stronger and more conscientious. thanks to the Global Palestine Project. We work with university students, people who are like you! This is a very interesting program because you can understand Palestinians' problems, exchange experiences, and make friends. We aided the students by talking with them, providing constructive criticism, and also by allowing them to enjoy themselves.

"Be Global!"

Michael, Germany

"I have to say that the obstacles and efforts that I faced were nothing compared to the mass of impressions, feelings, and reflections I found here."

"I was led to Palestine by pure interest in the situation of the Palestinians. I also came here because I did not want to believe all the stereotypes of suicide-bombing fanatics who are trying to kill all the jews and civilians of the Western world.

"And I have to say that the obstacles and efforts that I faced were nothing compared to the mass of impressions, feelings, and reflections I found here. I am very happy to have spent the time here and I am looking forward to come here again, since the whole thng was so enriching despite the fact I came here as a "teacher."

Naima, United Kingdom

"The most eye-opening situation for me is the effect of a more silent and psychological occupation being faced by the West Bank, which for me seems more dangerous on a long-term basis than a full-frontal violent occupation."

"Coming to Zajel, I expected to find myself in a whole new environment.

"The first most uplifting and surprising observation was how impressive An-Najah University is, and in the little time I have spent at An-Najah I have become accustomed to the way the university works and have thoroughly enjoyed it.

 "The most eye-opening situation for me is the effect of a more silent and psychological occupation being faced by the West Bank, which for me seems more dangerous on a long-term basis than a full-frontal violent occupation. The Zajel programme itself was intense and informative as well as uplifting for me as I felt very much a part of the Zajel family. The local volunteers were impressive and extremely helpful in every situation and the contrast in personalities made it perfect. Zajel has shown me a true reflection of the Palestinian struggle and I am forever grateful to have met you all."

Daniel, United Kingdom

"I have made friendships that no 8m wall, intrusive checkpoints, or aggressive soldiers can get between."

"The last two weeks have been an experience never to forget. An opportunity I'm so fortunate to have been part of. As cliched as it may sound, Zajel has changed my life.

"This was my second time to Palestine. I'd seen the occupation's oppressive regime before. But this time was different. Zajel offered me the chance to meet, talk, and share with amazing, welcoming people.

"Throughout the workshops, I have learnt as much as I hope the students have. Most importantly, I have made friendships that no 8m wall, intrusive checkpoints, or aggressive soldiers can get between."

Michael, United Kingdom

 "The trip to Hebron really brought the harshness of the occupation home and showed me how important it is to spread the issues Palestine faces with as many people as possible."

 "The Zajel program offered the great opportunity to volunteer and learn about the Palestinian struggle. Bonding with the Zajel team and meeting university students was a great way to learn about Palestine and its culture as well as offering students insight into British culture and a chance to speak English regularly.

 "The trip to hebron really brought the harshness of the occupation home and showed me how important it is to spread the issues Palestine faces with as many people as possible."

 Paula, Spain

"We need to spread [Palestine's] message all over the world, because it's not about an isolated case of a human rights' violation. It's about recovering common sense, love, and humanity in today's upside-down world."

"This summer camp is a great opportunity in order to get a global consciousness of the situation taking place in Palestine.

"On the one hand, we have had a cultural exchange in the university environment. The experiene of teaching students from An-Najah University and dealing with the local volunteers has been really enriching, but also unexpected. Not only because of their high level of English, but also because of their deep knowledge about the occupation of Palestine and of the current situation.

"On the other hand, we have had the chance of witnessing the horrors of the Israeli occupation with our own eyes. Without any doubt, this has been the most touching and shocking part of the camp. However, it has also reminded me that there's still hope left. The strength and the resistance of the Palestinian people is unbelievable and admirable at the same time. We need to spread their message all over the world, because it's not about an isolated case of a human rights' violation. It's about recovering common sense, love, and humanity in today's upside-down world."

 Jamie, Scotland

 "It's difficult to write about something when your understanding of it changes so regularly. It's even more difficult when these experiences no longer exist in the abstract."

"Reflecting on my time spent in Palestine with the Zajel Program is almost impossible. Not because the itinerary wasn't full (it was, and then some more) and not because the people I met were not memorable (there are faces, names, students, volunteers and moments I'll never forget) but because the experiences of one day affected the conclusions I had made the day before. 

"Some things, like the standard of facilities and the level of multi-language skills at An-Najah will make my university colleagues very jealous. Other things, like leaving behind a group of friends at a check-point because Israeli 'security' decided no Palestinians enter that day make me wonder how the Earth can still turn on its axis.

"It's difficult to write about something when your understanding of it changes so regularly. It's even more difficult when experiences no longer exist in the abstract. "The Palestinian Struggle" is not some ideological/political/cultural/religious conflict happening thousands of miles away. It is my friend Jehad not being able to travel to the UK to become an even better dentist or to see the places I am desperate to show him. It is my friend Naser looking after his parents, studying for his degree, and leading two international exchange camps at the same time all so his fellow students know there is life outside the apartheid they live in.

 "I will be going back to what is a comfortable life in Scotland. To a house that will only stop being mine if someone buys it; to a car I can drive on any roads its wheels can touch; to a university that will never be closed by the army in a town I will never have to complete a mountain trek to get to. And to eight hours of sleep I never expect to be interrupted by rocket fire.

"Will I feel guilty about this when I go home? I expect so. Will I feel ill because these basic things I had never given a second thought to are not certain for the people I learned and laughed with? Every. Single. Day."

 Danny, UK

"I have met beautiful people, discovered much about a stunning country and been massively changed by seeing and hearing the gut-wretching reality of occupation."

 "I signed up to the Zajel exchange because I wanted to expand my knowledge on Palestine. Not only because I felt somewhat ignorant to the situation here but also as I wanted to find the nation beyond the articles and television reports.

 "On reflection of my short time here I feel I have certainly achieved much of what I came out for. I have met beautiful people, discovered much about a stunning country and been massively changed by seeing and hearing the gut-wretching reality of occupation. 

"For anyone who wants to make a personal connection with a place most only skim-read a few paragraphs on, this is a perfect window into that world."

 

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