Friday 27 February 2015

Another student arrest - Hejazi Abeedo -


This is our life in Palestine, no one feels safe.

He is my friend and when he was on the road to go back to home today, the isreal army attack him and now he arrested. He is in the 3rd year in Alquds uni and he studies law. He is from Hebron, he lives in the old city, and there is a checkpoint right outside his house. That's where he was arrested.

Friday 20 February 2015

Exchange Students. Swarthghyll Farm, Yorkshire Dales. UK (30/01/15-02/02/15)

 From the Friday 30th January to Monday 2nd February, a couple of volunteers, from various parts of the UK, and myself took part in a Residential weekend with Palestinian students touring the UK, funded by CADFA. This took place at Swarthyghll Farm in the Yorkshire Dales.

On the Friday, we arrived at the farm from a longer journey than expected due to the snowy/icy conditions. However, the view of the mountains covered in snow was magnificent.

On the first day we took the chance to greet the Palestinian students, we were allocated into groups and asked to plan to do certain tasks as a group. This was very beneficial, as it obliged us to interact and cooperate; I personally felt this was a great way to get to know each other, especially when there was a language barrier. In addition, we established hopes and ideas for the weekend and on the contrary, we discussed what we did not want happening such as arguments, etc.

At the farm there was no wi-fi  connection or phone signal. Personally, I felt that this was splendid, as everyone talked to each other, played games, socialized and I did not feel that no one was trying to exclude themselves from the group activities by texting or social media.

On the second day, after a good night’s rest, we set out walking in the snowy hills. We played in the snow, throwing snowballs at each other, laughing and having fun. We took lovely pictures of the walk. We felt that the group was starting to connect very well.

Later on that day, a few of the British volunteers and myself presented about Britain. This included British culture, stereotypes, life as a student in the UK, from a British and International perspective and various social problems faced in a city like Manchester. I received feedback from some of the Palestinians who said they found the presentation educational, and that it changed massively their knowledge and perspectives on Britain. This was compared to their prior knowledge they had of Britain.

For dinner (supper), we all ate Shepherd’s Pie, a traditional English food. We also showed the Palestinian Students British etiquette at the table and compared it to what Palestinian etiquette is like. The Palestinians showed us this the following night and we found that the 2 etiquettes were very contradicting.

The following day, Sunday, was the Palestinian day. We started this day by eating “Foul Mudammas” - a traditional meal from the Levant. Later on that day, we listened to all the Palestinian students present to us about a bit of Palestinian culture but mainly political issues in their countries and some personal stories involving these issues.

Personally, I found these presentations life-changing with regards to my perspectives about what is happening in Palestine. This was because I heard stories from Palestinians who are currently residing in Palestine and have had numerous experiences as victims of the political repression in their country. Getting to know the students on a personal level, as I got to during the weekend, made me feel for their cause and obliged to help them fight, in any possible way, for their human rights in their home country.

The following morning, we set off on our different ways, a few Palestinian students came to the University of Leeds (my university). We were all very sad to be departing from each other, especially after a wonderful and amazing weekend where we made some really good friends. I personally feel that this weekend was an amazing, life-changing weekend. I made some good friends during that weekend, of whom I hope to continue to keep in touch with. In my opinion, what made the weekend so special and functional, was: the allocation of groups (a mixture of English and Palestinian Students, living in a big house together in the countryside where co-operation and interaction were a must, and also the effort that CADFA put in to make this weekend work and all the ideas, events and activities that brought us (the British and Palestinian Students) together.

It was a great, cool, fun, adventurous weekend and I would recommend this kind of weekend to my friends, family and colleges at University.

Henry de Thierry
 Studying Arabic & International Relations at the University of Leeds.
 A member of Palestine Solidarity Group, University of Leeds.