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Far Zahran Heritage Building

Today, my sister, our friend and I went to Ramallah to visit a museum/heritage center that was once used as a home by the family that currently owns it. The house represents a traditional Palestinian home with one room that acted as a space for spending time with each other, eating, sleeping etc. and there is a basement which was used for storage and housed the animals. When we entered the museum, we were met by the owner and he offered us candy and offered us a seat while he described the history of the house and what was currently being shown. The owner was very nice and offered us water, tea or coffee and answered any questions we had. After we wondered around the six rooms that they have within the museum. The two exhibitions that were up were done by two Palestinian
refugees. Both exhibitions told their story and the story of people like them. These paintings are beautiful full of sadness, hope and memories and I think the embody the true experience of the Palestinians.

The Spring That Was
To the Unkown

The Road to Nowhere


The Nightmare and The Dream

For Survival

Life Prevails


Homage to The Martyrs

The Dream of Tomorrow

Jaffa - The Bride of The Sea

Jaffa - Harbor of Abundance

Unholy Alliance


Steadfast as a Rock

The Rift

Don't Forsake The Steed

My usual day

          I wake up around 7:00-7:30 daily, shower, get ready for the day and study a little bit before I go to class. I have Arabic class with my sister from 9:00 am- 12:30 pm. We learn between 4-5 letters a day and around 30-50 new vocabulary words. The Arabic language is one of the most complicated that I have tried to study. Each letter/sound has two to four different ways to write it depending on its placement within the word. It can either be connected or not to the rest of the letters within the word and there are at least four different ways to pronounce each letter based of punctuation. For example, the letter/sound seen, س, it can sound like sa, su, se and hard s sound based on the punctuation. There are slight differences between the letters/sounds such as the placement of a single dot or angle of a line. The language is beautiful and learning it I can see the similarity that a lot of languages have to it such as Spanish and French. I am excited to continue to learn as much as possible. 
             After my Arabic classes, I meet up with professors from the University at either the old campus or a refugee camp and assist them in their workshops. Currently, they are working with community members to better the care for 0-8 year olds within the community. People of all ages, mostly women, have come together with professors from An Najah to create a research group. The community members from the refugee camps learn research techniques and child development curriculum and visit homes within their community and share the information. The intent is to create a group of women within the community who have the knowledge and tools to inform parents and families about child development.  The group will be self-sustaining rather dependent on an outsider which is important for creating a self supporting community and requiring the members to be interdependent on one another and not on outsiders. This work is really fun as we get to meet people of all ages and share stories. We have made friends with the young girls and I hope these friendships will grow and last a long time. 
           Last week I mentioned to the girls that I am interested in doing some artwork with them and they seem really excited about it. Next time I go to the workshop, I hope to talk to them more and begin doing that if they are interested! 
            Once Ramodon is over, I will begin working in the preschool on An Najah's campus. I am very excited to begin working the little ones and learning from them. Overall, I am having a great time so far and learning a lot. 


        I arrived to Palestine on the 23rd, late at night. My mom and her boyfriend came and picked my sister and I from the airport in Tel Aviv and we had a long and interesting journey home to Nablus. We got conned by some Israelis and long story short had to pay them some money to leave us alone but in the end, our friends found us and all was fine. Since being in Palestine I have met some of the kindest and most welcoming people I have ever met. I have heard many stories and information that I had never heard outside of Palestine before. The complicated nature of the situation grows more clear and worse as I hear more stories from people. I feel as though one of the few ways to help is to spread the messages because Israel controls what the Palestinian send out via the Internet. I am going to start at the beginning of the oppression.

        Starting in 1947, Israel was granted by the British over 55% of the Palestinian land. Originally, they were going to give Israel a part of land in Europe which would have made much more sense as most of the people who live in Israel today came from Eastern Europe(if you do a blood analysis, it is very evident.) In 1948, Israelis forced 800,000 Palestinians out of their homes and this came to be known as the first Nakba. Families that had lived in the area for hundreds of years and by hundreds I literally mean 700 years, were forced to move and leave everything behind. This is just two years after the end of World War II.  People were pushed to cities such as Nablus, Hebron and Bethlehem and then  began refugee camps on the outskirts of town. These refugee camps were once just tents but now are filled with cement homes that are continuously added to as more and more people continue to get forced out of their homes. Unlike any other refugee crisis in the world, these refugee camps have become permanent homes for these families and now hold three generations within them. Within Nablus, there are three refugee camps Camp 1, balata and Askar. I visited Askar yesterday and worked with a group of women aging from 12-21. They are working with a professor from the university to do participatory action research within their communities to improve the lives of children from zero to eight years old. These women/girls were so invested and interested in participating/running the research, it was inspiring to see. Within the refugee camps, they experience high levels of violence. My question was whether they experienced high levels of violence from the oppressors or within the community. So far, I have found the answer to be both, yet it all stems from the violence experienced from the oppressors. Once you have experienced violence from the outside for so long, ones trauma begins to bring out violence within the community. One of the  most heart breaking things that I have learned so far is that every night between 2-4 am, Israeli soldiers come into Nablus, concentrating mostly on the refugee camps. They come in silently in military trucks filled with soldiers and go to people’s homes. They arrest  and beat people relentlessly and ransack their homes and then disappear. No one knows who they target or when they will come so people live in constant unknowing and instability.

        The situation here is disgusting. Unlike areas stricken with poverty who do not have the means to do what they need, these people have the mean but they are physically not allowed to do things. Everything is controlled by the Israeli side. You can tell a Palestinian  house because they have water tanks on their roof. During the summer, Israel shuts off their water for sometimes up to ten days and force the people to buy bottled water to drink when their tanks run out (they last up to two days). Electricity, food, clothing, etc. are all controlled by Israel and they often limit or restrict their usage. Recently, Palestinians were allotted 3G but before they only had up to 2G. One of the two large hill/mountains that create the valley that Nablus lies is Nader Israeli control and Palestinians cannot drive/go up there are all.

        In cites such as Hebron, settlers control the old city. In 1986, Israeli  soldiers entered the homes of Palestinians living in the old city and waited for them to return from work and school. When they returned home, they put the Palestinians in cages and the settlers harassed them with insults and by throwing items at them ( ).   20% of the city now houses only  850 settlers. It was once a vibrant part of the city but now resembles a ghost town. The settlers moved into the top floors of the buildings in some areas of the city, forcing the Palestinians to put metal fencing above their house and  street to catch the stuff thrown at them. Now the settlers throw skunk water, water full of pee and feces, as it can fall through the metal fencing. As I walked through this section of the city, the settlers threw food and other items as us as we walked the streets. I cannot imagine what they throw at the few Palestinians allowed in this area.

        Bethlehem, a home to many Muslim and Christian Palestinians alike, is divided by a huge wall. The wall, 252 feet so far with more planned, is decorated with graffiti and street art on the Palestinian side. They call it an open prison as the wall brings this sense of entrapment and weight on the lives and souls of the Palestinians. Stories of people’s experiences line the wall as well, telling the story of the Palestinian existence  under the occupation. With each poster, my heart breaks more and more. How can the Jewish settlers justify what they are doing to these people? How can these soldiers shoot and maim children fighting for their freedom? The most frustrating question for me is how can people internationally continue to support Israel and its occupation of Palestine? Is it because they do not know the truth of the atrocities that happen daily or is it because they do not care and are comfortable in their privilege?

        Palestinians are some of the kindest and most generous people I have had the privilege to meet. It is currently Ramadan, for those who do not know it is a month long holiday in the Islamic faith in which one fasts during daylight hours. Typically, people wake up around three in the morning to pray and have a meal and stop eating by four am. Often times they return back to sleep, dependent on your job and economic circumstances. Nothing is allowed to touch your lips during day light hours including water, food or things such as cigarettes. At 7:45pm, once the sunsets, people break the fast with water, dates, a small peach like fruit native to Palestine and other small treats. After prayer, they begin the Ramadan festivities which include feasting, walking Rafidia(the main road in town) and hookah lounges. On our way back from Hebron, the fast was broken during the servicee ride. The driver broke out a large bottle of water he had stopped to buy with plastic cups for everyone in the servicee as well as the small peach like fruits. The couple in the back passed around bread and milk and we passed around dates. Along the highway, people were standing with water bottles in hand to give to people traveling. It was an incredibly beautiful experience. Everyone was so happy and sharing(as this is what Ramadan it about) and I cannot explain the feeling I had during this servicee ride. This is the true culture of Palestinians. They are kind, strong and hopeful people despite their 71 years of occupation and violence inflicted upon them.

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I have been having trouble with this blog website so I created a new one! I will be posting on the new one from now on. Click here and yo...