Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Half Way There: Sheep, Goats and Lots of Food!

People of Palestine

Now roughly half-way through our time here in Palestine, we are all well settled into living here, in fact thoughts of leaving are creeping up on us far too quickly. Our previous posts have focused on our project work as well as the cultural trips and experiences we are having. It is a daunting task to write on behalf of all of us, so when I sat to think about this weeks blog I decided to reflect on what has struck me the most since being here. It didnt take me long to realise that it is the people here that make this place fantastic, therefore this week I will focus our blog on introducing you to the People of Palestine. 

Laughter, learning and positivity. 

Tamayyaz Students
We are lucky enough to be teaching alongside students of the Tamayyaz programme here at Sharek and are building great friendships with them. We work together every day and they are constantly educating us on Palestinian culture, food, their language and helping us understand more about their lives and country. As hard as we try, we are finding it much easier to become experts in the food than the language, but we are all determind to persevere! In our teaching lessons, our students are always providing us with moments of laughter and making us smile. This week they all devised short sketches to provoke discussion on topics ranging from sport and travelling to education and study. Whilst our students are learning new skills, we are also all learning how to deliver engaging lessons and growing in confidence as teachers each week. Our lessons often include content relating to our Voice Of The Youth project, so although we are often discussing difficult and complex subjects, our students always find a way of portraying their thoughts and ideas in a positive and proactive way.

Generosity, warmth and hospitality.

Cafe owner in Nablus
Having been in Palestine for over a month now, we have all discovered that Palestinian hospitality knows no bounds. This week we visited Nablus, where we met four brilliant Palestinians. Having wondered through the Old Town we stumbled upon a small café, empty aside from its owner who waved us in exuberantly. He spoke no English, but with a little help from two other new Palestinian friends we had a delicious meal and discovered his family had been selling humous and kebabs from the same spot since the 1930s. Our two new guides took us to their family home, where we enjoyed traditional tea and coffee and climbed a ladder to see the view of Nablus; a beautiful city nestled between two Mountains. This week we also visited Jericho, where one of our students invited us to their home to enjoy a traditional meal, prepared in abundance by her mother.  This generosity continues into the classroom, where our students have treated us to a variety of foods, from Shawarma, Kanafeh and local Pastries, to traditional Ibrahim the Prophet soup from Hebron and homemade cake. The Palestinians we have met are always generous and all wholeheartedly welcome us into their homes and lives. 

Some of the amazing Palestinian cuisine!

 Sheep, Goat or SheepGoat? 

Palestine is not only full of interesting people, but interesting animals also. In particular, the landscape is scattered with a vast population of intriguing breeds of sheep and goats, which roam the Palestinian hillsides in groups reminiscent of those described in Biblical stories. As weve travelled across the countryside to various lessons, weve had time to watch the flocks and have devised a great game of Sheep or Goat?, as the breeds here look surprisingly similar! It seems that not only the People of Palestine, but the animals are also providing us with many moments of laughter.
Indeed there arent enough words to describe the Palestinian people or enough time to capture the uniqueness of each person we have met, however I hope to have given you an insight into the sense of the people (and animals!) here. As part of our Voice Of The Youth project, we are capturing images and quotes from Palestinians we meet on our social media, so please have a look at our facebook, instagram and twitter for #PeopleOfPalestine to find out more about different individuals.  We will continue blogging over the next month, however I know I speak for all the volunteers in saying that when that month is over we will all leave hoping that at some point in the future we will be able to return to this beautiful place and the friends we have made here, inshallah. 

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