Testimonials from Past Participants
The activities that are scheduled are also a key factor of what makes the PSE program so unique. This month, we were able to listen to Jewish, Christian, and Muslim speakers. We met people active during the 1st and 2nd Intifada, and we toured controversial places such as Yad Vashem and Palestinian refugee camps. The day trips and activities provide insight into the history of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, but they also give participants a very balanced view of what is happening here. Since we hear from people who come from various backgrounds, we are given various narratives. This helps to understand the conflict from many angles; this type of understanding is not something that you can get from watching the news, reading books on the conflict, or just by traveling to Israel or Palestine. The PSE program’s way of introducing the participants to various sides and stories of the conflict provides a very uncommon chance to see the conflict in a real-life and unbiased way.
JM Johnson - PSE 2007 Participant
We visited Hebron and participated in a city tour with “Breaking the Silence”, an organization founded by former Israeli combatants who served in the Occupied Territories. Seeing and listening to the history and present-day reality of this small area of Hebron was not easy. Frankly, nothing in Palestine has been easy. There is so much suffering and resentment on both sides of the separation wall that it can put a damper on your hopes for a better future. But hearing courageous testimonies and messages of hope from peace activists bring some of that hope and optimism back. I'm so appreciative of what they are doing. May there be more people and communities like them, willing to speak out against the occupation and work for truth, peace and reconciliation.
- Jamie Stall, speaking about the field trip to Hebron (al-Khalil)
I've learned the most from the girls, whether it's phrases in Arabic like how to say "Can I play with your hair?" or how to use a gas stove. They've also learned from me: they now say "oh my gosh!" when they spill things (or "oh my tosh!" in the little one’s case). A few nights ago, after a long ordeal with putting the older two to bed, the younger one and I got to hang out. As we lay on the floor dozing off and watching "How to Train Your Dragon" dubbed into Arabic, I realized that I truly feel at home with my Palestinian family.
I feel grateful to be here. Coming here feels like scratching an itch that I've had since first visiting the West Bank in 2010. I am grateful for the incredible hospitality I have encountered here so far, not only from my host family, but also from the staff at my volunteer placement (Jemima in Beit Jala); from the Holy Land Trust staff, who have clearly put an incredible amount of thought and heart (and an amazing local network!) into planning the program; and from all of our guest lecturers, tour guides, Arabic teachers, and all of the other folks whom we have met here so far. It is a great privilege to be here, and, while I know there is no way that we guests can earn our keep, the best thing I know to do with my gratitude is to dedicate myself as deeply as I can to learning Arabic, in the hopes that that will, one day in the not-so-distant future, enable me to be of service.
Rima Turner, 2015 PSE Participant
“We went to the Al-Azza refugee camp to learn how to make Maqluba [a traditional dish] from a Palestinian family living there. Maqluba is a traditional Palestinian dish with rice, potatoes, vegetables and meat. Its name means “upside-down” and it’s called that because after you cook it all together in a pot, you flip the pot upside-down onto the serving plate. It was delicious, and I’ll definitely try my hand at it again when I get a chance.
Nathan Blaisdell, speaking about Palestinian cooking class in Al-Azza Refugee Camp
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