Reflections of the International Volunteers: June 2011
Rays of Justice Camp
28th May-12th June 2011
“To be able to witness
their dignity, hospitality, warmth and happiness, is simply
Before my departure, I felt that I knew a lot about the
Palestinian-Israeli situation, but I understand now that I
needed to see it with my own two eyes in order to be able to
understand more of the condition. I still feel ignorant and wish
my knowledge was better, but I believe that I can grasp more of
My experience has overall been a good one. In some situations I
reacted with disgust, others with tears, but mainly I think that
I reacted with disbelief. To walk around in a refugee camp and
watch wee girls shout “Hello, what is your name”? And knowing
that they are bound to live in that camp for the rest of their
lives is hard to take in.
But to be able to witness their dignity, hospitality, warmth and
happiness, is simply astonishing. I have never met a more open
and kind people, a people that still has its dignity and
kindness intact in spite of daily humiliations at the numerous
“The people I
encountered there showed me that hope, resilience forgiveness
and love can transcend any boundaries”
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
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.
“All that remains is
for the injustice to end”
two things that surprised me most were the friendliness of the
Palestinians and also how good the quality of life is here in
Nablus. From what I’d seen of Palestine in the news back home, I
was expecting a war zone and third-world conditions.
Instead, here in Nablus life seems to go on as in any other
Arab/Mediterranean city. Perhaps we’ve been well sheltered from
the worst of the situation, and I still can’t believe how this
occupation is allowed to continue, but it filled me with hope to
see people here living fairly normal lives for now. All that
remains is for the injustice to end and give Palestinians the
same rights and freedoms that we take for granted.
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