Reflections of the International Volunteers/ Camp 2009

 

Bridget/ UK

Trying to write a reflection on the last two weeks is an impossible task as falling into clichés seems inevitable but there I fall, I don’t know where to start and I don’t even know how to be put into words the experience I’ve just had

I have seen the amazing ability of children to just get on, laugh, play and appreciate the smallest things. A smile from an Asker child is a true gift and one that they are quite willing to give despite everything around them. I have found out what true dignity and resilience looks like and it will stay with me always. I also found joy, laughter and fun and I have never felt such warmth and hospitality anywhere. I found a rich culture and beauty in a land that is only ever painted as a war zone to the outside world. I found new friends and a sense of belonging that is unique in such a short space of time. This is why Zajel is special and why no matter how many times I say thank you to the local volunteers I will never be able to convey just how heartfelt my thanks are.

 After two weeks, hard and frustrating at times, but truly rewarding in the end I leave with hope…for Palestine that was and more importantly for Palestine that will be.

 

Eftychia/ Greece

I wanted to write something about each and every day, but time passes so quickly here! This is the last day, the last night, and all melted in one thought "one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I feel that every image, every smile, every kind gesture reflected on me.

Thank you all for everything! It inspired me so much that you can not even imagine, not only for my writing, but also about the way of living! This circle is over..... Good luck for next year. Hope you visit me soon in Greece.  

Nizette/ Netherlands

The last three weeks felt for me like 3 years; all the impressions from what I have seen and heard and all the conversations with people I had simply the atmosphere by being in Palestine. It all has been a massive experience; it all had and still has such a deep impact on me. I could talk about it for hours and hours, but at the same time I'm speechless. I'm very grateful and happy. I had the chance to come to Palestine, but at the same time I'm so sad about what's going on here. I thought I was prepared for what I was going to face but it turned out not.  

To be here was so much intense than I could ever imagine before. It has been a life changing experience; all has touched me deeply. All what is in my heart and mind now is that I have to take the moral responsibility myself as a human being.

 

Giordana/ Italy

My trip to Palestine has revealed more than I thought. My first intention was scientific; to observe with my own eyes the dynamics of the conflict according to my studies, to have a deeper knowledge of the Palestinian culture as a whole, which has happened. Still, I got much more: I felt the soul of Palestine.  

I understand your pride looking at your sunshine so shining and joyful in spite of sparrow. I saw the bravery of the Asker volunteers as well as their patience toward children. I could see the sorrow scars in their eyes, in their tired faces, in their silence sometimes. But I never found any kind of resignation.

On the contrary, I felt your passion, people, your will to defend your dignity, your own ambitions as all people, a world of freedom and equal rights. I have learned to share the difficulties, delights, anxieties, embarrassment, joys, amazements, fatigue of a long training camp day and incomparable fulfillment of a child's hug.  

Ivana/ USA

As I was sitting on the bus from Jericho to Allenby Bridge, music suddenly appeared and my instant reflex was to begin clapping. I clapped once, and had realized I had left my Zajel family very early that morning. Few stares were coming my way because I had clapped and had tears a few seconds later as well. Joining the summer camp had a serious impact on my life, and was the best decision I have ever made. Long lasting friendships were born, and a life time of memories and stories.

 

I was inspired to start an NGO, already named “Learn Palestine”. I would like it to focus on educational tours throughout the West Bank, two weeks learning camp that students worldwide will have the opportunity to obtain knowledge of the occupation; A subject rarely or never discussed in classrooms. My friends and family, both in Chicago and Croatia are already slowly learning about the truth.

 We, the youth, have a long road ahead of us, but with dedication and hard work our dreams will hopefully be achieved. The lectures, trips, entertainment, speaking with the locals, and most importantly, spending time with the kids at Asker camp, have given me the drive to begin a new chapter in my life, and to follow a different road ahead.  

I would like to thank everybody at An-Najah for their impact on my life and hope to visit them very soon again. Recruitment for next year’s summer camp has already begun!

Kasia/Poland

I decided to make a journey to Palestine in order to touch, to feel and to learn about this land and its people. I am, and always remain, a distant observer, timidly peering through my European sunglasses, and yet the two intense weeks of the Zajel camp let me look at the West Bank reality from close up. I feel privileged that my Palestinian friends let me see everything around from inside, from their point of view. What I saw and experienced will never let me be indifferent again.

 

I saw the wall that divides peoples, which separates their conceptions, dreams and hopes. I touched the wires that separate their children and deprive both of them of the careless laughs of their childhood.

Every morning I savored the aroma of black, strong Arabic coffee, I smelled the most incredibly aromatic spices. I tasted the sweetest pride of Nablus- kanafa (goat’s cheese dressed with the sugary surrounding). I have been waking up early mornings to listen to the most mystical sound of the call for prayer. 

I felt ashamed when I saw children’s smiles in Askar Refugee Camp. I realized that the last thing they need is a pity on them. I saw their energetic moves while playing, running and dancing Dabka. I laughed serenely with them, but I also noticed in the corner of their eyes the reflection of longing for the lost land, their frustration and uncertainty of tomorrow.  

Children from Aksar have challenged me many times. They thought me about my own ego, my weaknesses as much as my strengths. They reminded me the very truth about human communication- the super flounces of any words. They made me realize that the future of the Palestinian land is in their hands…in our hands.