Caitlin Williams

Caitlin Williams (Middle East Nonviolence and Democracy - MEND): Caitlin earned a joint degree in Religious Studies and International Relations from Brown University. She worked as a research assistant at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC. At the time of her fellowship, Caitlin was studying for a joint degree at the Arab Studies program and Georgetown Law School. After her fellowship, Caitlin wrote: “While I don’t think I did much in the way of real capacity-building at MEND, I do think I have provided much needed temporary help in the office and some real help for the Palestinians that participated in the workshops I helped to organize. The two workshops provided me with an immense amount of satisfaction and a new perspective on nonviolent resistance in Palestine.”

Heading Home

20 Aug

As I get ready to go back to the United States – running around getting last-minute presents, finishing up my work at MEND, trying to fit in time to see that historic site I missed, etc. – I’m having trouble really assessing my summer here.

During my last few weeks here I was very disillusioned at the state of Palestinian civil society, but when I think back on the workshops I helped organize and my time in Gaza, I remember the lives that have been impacted (including my own), and a sense of hope starts to break through the maze of competing interests and disorganization. Then again, how much impact will a workshop on nonviolence of ten days really have on a person’s life if there is no follow-up or a long-term, strategic goal behind it?

I waver between believing that even very small acts will build up to make a difference, and cynicism that argues it will add up to nothing and make no difference at all.

I was sitting with a volunteer for the Christian Peacemakers Team in Hebron today, who said, “You know, you can practice all of the random acts of kindness that you want. And it may make you feel good and it may make that other person feel good, but it certainly isn’t ending the occupation.” I have to agree with her, but I don’t think that means we should stop doing random acts of kindness and stop trying to make some sort of impact on people’s lives. I cringe to think of what my life might be like without them and then I also realize that sometimes the smallest acts really do make a difference – they have in mine.

So I go back to the States knowing that I have not changed the world, but at the very least I have changed myself a bit. I also know that there are many people here working very hard to have some sort of positive impact on the situation. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but sometimes it does.

Posted By Caitlin Williams

Posted Aug 20th, 2003

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