Israel/Palestine March 10: Early Wake Up

Today we woke up around 4:30 a.m. to see the sunrise from the rooftop of our Austrian Hospice. Unfortunately we were early by about an hour and wasted precious sleep time as we awaited the sun to come up over the beautiful city of Jerusalem.
After this the group attended breakfast at the hospice and later traveled by bus to Ramallah, Palestine. As we drove through Jerusalem to Ramallah, Chip began to tell everyone about some of the historical landmarks as we passed them and even showed us where he had lived during the duration of his time in Israel.
As we got closer and closer to Ramallah, I began to get more and more nervous about what was going to happen upon arrival and what my host family was going to be like.
But before this we had a meeting for worship with Westtown. After dropping our bags at Rammalah Friends School we all darted over to the meetinghouse, following the steadfast Polly Lodge. The meeting for worship was riveting. Hearing some of the stories that the members of the community and schools shared were powerful and extremely moving.
After this we listened to a speaker at the  meetinghouse, a very interesting woman, who told us of her hardships in Palestine and the problems that were being caused due to the opposing government of Israel. Although I was half asleep from jetlag I forced myself to stay awake and listen to what this woman had to say. Her stories and view on things were firm and extremely interesting and I thought it helpful to get a view on things from a Palestinian’s point of view.
After this we headed back to the school for lunch and another speaker, who again, was extremely intersting. Each speaker, no matter how different their stories were, had one thing in common: oppression from the Isreali government. I found this fascinating and outstandingly intersting due to the fact that one group of people could dictate and control another group in such a way.
Following a long question and answer session from this speaker, it was time to meet our host families. We were all anxious and nervous to find out who we had, what he or she was like, and if we would get along with one another. Thankfully and impressively each student gelled well with the host kids and instant connections were made. We had three hours to spend with our host families before the dance recital at the cultural center.
The dance performance was outstanding. The combination of another culture’s dance and the new experiences witnessed by myself was incredible and indescribable. I instantly felt more welcome having attended that performance.
After that we were on our own for the night, where most of us went back to the houses and crashed due to jetlag and a long day. We’ll be back tomorrow with more news and events.
-Israel/Palestine 2013
Noah Kimelheim

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