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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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!
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
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.