Two weeks before I am set to depart for Ramallah and I am sitting in my room staring at my passport and small Arabic dictionary (which I intend to carry with me at all times) wondering about the experience upon which I am about to embark. What will the people there be like? Will I achieve what I set out to do? Will I be shocked, inspired, surprised by what I find? More questions then I possibly have answers for continue to plague my mind like a fly that refuses to be swatted away. The news paints its own portrait of the situation in both Gaza and the West Bank and I wonder how much of it actually captures what is really happening on the ground. I wonder if, as a peace fellow, I will be able to tell the story, their story, any better. My commitment this summer is to work with the Palestinians in Ramallah and help them tell the world what is really happening. The point is not to just talk about the crisis, which will likely only make back page news after a few days; the point is to talk about the everyday struggles, the everyday challenges that the Palestinian people face in trying to simply live their lives, make a living to feed their families and work to help change the world we live in so that their children might not have to suffer from the same hardships as their parents. The point is to talk until someone, anyone, listens and truly hears their story.
In the field of conflict resolution, we attempt to identify theories that will help us to better understand the conflicts that we come across in our work. We try to apply them in a way that facilitates the process of identifying the root causes of the conflict so that once peace is established, it can be sustainable. I wonder if, in the real world, it will be so obvious. Perhaps the true test will be whether I am able to pull on everything I have learned over the past year to help explain the events that I will inevitably come across during my summer in the West Bank. And while part of me thinks it will certainly provide some perspective, it is unlikely that it will be that simple.
At this point, it is still unclear to me what the place where I will be spending the next three months will be like. All I know for sure, however, is that it is exactly where I need to be. My journey back to the Middle East has been a long time coming and I cannot imagine going anywhere else that would provide the opportunity for me to truly be the change I wish to see in the world.
Map identifying how control over the West Bank is broken down
Posted By Rangineh Azimzadeh
Posted May 27th, 2009