An-Najah National University

Public Relations Department

 

Youth Exchange Program

 

 

 

 

 

Reflections of the International Volunteers (Camp 2010)

 

Annemarie/ Germany:

"I have gone home a changed person"

The past 14 days have been some of the most fulfilling in my life and trying to recap these in a few words will be almost impossible. The experiences and knowledge that I have taken home is priceless, I wish we had more time in Nablus. Meeting so many young minds all open and interested has been very refreshing especially seeing how strong and proud young Palestinians are of their country, ready to defend and fight for equal rights and freedom to bring an end to this occupation.

Working together with the children from the refugee camp was amazing. These energetic children took part in our games and ideas; and while we taught them English, they taught us a lesson about life. Looking at the children in Askar, I found them to have warm yet fearful smiles, deep dark brown eyes hiding away the sorrow and distress, and most importantly, a sense of hopefulness, especially in us to help them forget for a while and make them happy. I felt a whole new world open up within me when little 3 years old Hala would fall into my arms and smile. This child has made me go home with a smile on my face, one I am so grateful for.

These children are very special in the way they interact among themselves- brothers walking hand in hand with their sisters and taking care of one another. This is an image one cannot find anywhere else. I thank Askar Development Centre for giving these children hope for a better future and for giving international volunteers the opportunity to learn life-altering lessons from these children.

I have gone home a changed person: the knowledge I have taken home about Palestine, the hospitable and friendly people and the greater discovery of my Western lifestyle and myself. Thank you Zajel you gave me a whole new perspective of life and myself. Thanks to all the international and local volunteers for the deep conversations and for all the great memories. I have left Palestine with hope and with energy to support your struggle- Palestine will be free!

Cristof/ Netherlands:

As you already mentioned in your e-mail, two weeks is a short period. A three week camp would give the opportunity to achieve much more with the kids in Askar. In my opinion the first week enabled mainly for getting used to the kids and learning for the international volunteers, so that we can find out which ways those kids learn. Only during the second week did I have the idea that I was doing something that could have a long-lasting effect. Teaching these kids for a longer time would make this effect desirably stronger.

Simon/ Germany:

"Palestinians need their own state"

First of all I want to thank everyone for the wonderful time I had in Palestine. It was a great work camp. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming and willing to show us everything either of Palestinian daily life or about the conflict. There could not find things to criticise; however there are three suggestions I want to make about what I think could be changed.

I want to say that this was one of the best experiences of my life and I would do it again. Iím not that kind of person who is easy to convince about political issues. but I believe yours is truly justified and I want to continue in my country with my limited means to convince people that Palestinians need their own state and occupation and settlement need to stop. Thank you so much!! Free Palestine.

Monica/ Ireland:

"Palestine is a place filled with courageous People"

Itís so hard to say in such few words how much this experience has had an impact on me as a person and on my whole life and outlook.  I didnít really know what to expect from the Zajel programme, I just thought I would go visit some places and work with some children and that would be it!  What I didnít expect to find is a place filled with courageous, warm and dignified people who despite the struggles and injustices they face every day still manage to be happy, positive and hopeful.  The children at Askar Refugee Camp were an inspiration, so full of energy and so happy.  As a mother it was heartbreaking to see how little resources were available to the children and the volunteers at Askar, especially children with special needs.  But the most amazing thing about Askar and the people there is that despite their lack of resources and the obstacles they face they donít let it hold them back.  They donít complain about what they donít have, they make the best of what they do have and this clear in their smiles and the laughter you hear. As for the rest of the programme there are no words to describe it, you really have to experience it for yourself!  I remember reading at the very end of the Introduction Booklet ďwelcome homeĒ and thinking ďwhat an odd thing to sayĒ.  Imagine, after only two weeks, I fell in love with a land and its people and I am proud to call Palestine my home! I have made lifelong friends and together we will stand with the Palestinian people and tell the world about the things we have seen, until they listen.  Palestine and its people will stay in my heart forever.  Thank you to all my friends at Zajel and all my friends from all over the globe for changing my life for the better, you will be forever in my thoughts and in my heart.

Will/ United Kingdom:

"This trip has surely changed my life"

I have never met braver, kinder or friendlier people in the world than those I met in Palestine, and I know I never will anywhere else. The last two weeks have been the most incredible and important of my life. Incredible in that I have seen and heard things that I didn't think I would ever see happening, and important because I know that this trip has surely changed my life. I feel honoured to have spent time working alongside the local and international volunteers and to have been allowed to see a little of what life really means for the Palestinian people. The Palestinians have a kind of passion that I have never encountered before. They never give up, despite everything, and that makes me hopeful for what the future will bring.

I can't believe how much we managed to fit in such a small amount of time, from working at the camp, to the lectures to the trips and all of the other activities. I'm exhausted now, but if I could do it all again, I would go back today. The day I left Nablus I left some very dear friends and I will never forget how kind and how much fun they all are.

I will now urge everyone I know to come to Zajel next year and I can only assume that if they do, they will have the best two weeks of their lives.

Joe/ United Kingdom:

I first came to Palestine a lost child searching for anything. You were my teachers and for that I thank you so much. I try to learn and keep learning from local volunteers and internationals alike. I want to speak about the ways that Palestine has given me the experiences to build a framework of morals that I can live my life by, but now is not the time or the place. So let us, our group who have glimpsed into the heart of Palestine, learn from this great integrity, for with it the whole world can become a better place. Thanks for all of you.

Pham/ Vietnam:

What I liked about the camp is that you guys cordially welcomed us and treated us with hospitability. You are amazingly friendly and the local volunteers helped me very enthusiastically. I felt very glad to be with you. I liked the lectures, they were very helpful and I appreciate the fact that you brought us excellent lecturers who were highly-educated and knowledgeable.

 

 

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