I first wanted to attend Camp because it sounded fun. What I didn’t realize was that I was beginning a journey, and that I was joining a family that would accompany me wherever I went and in whatever I did. At Camp I found it difficult to make sense of all the different views I was encountering. As a Palestinian living in Israel, I found myself constantly looking for “truth” in the dialogue sessions. I felt torn between two worlds and felt as if I had to pick a side.
Who I am and the way I define myself changed in those three weeks at Camp. I gained the confidence to more comfortably identify myself as a Palestinian, and not other categories that have been imposed on me (Arab, Israeli, Arab-Israeli, ’48 Palestinian, etc.). Things were difficult when I returned home after Camp. I know that unfortunately the world looks nothing like Seeds of Peace. But I am motivated to do something about it.
How are you impacting your community?
After Camp I chose to enroll in an all-Jewish high school instead of a Palestinian one in my city. If there was a way to break stereotypes and influence others, this was it. Not surprisingly, it wasn’t easy being the first Palestinian ever to attend this school. The staff welcomed me, but the students took a long time to get used to the idea of having someone “different” at their school. Some of my close friends who now visit me at my home had never met a Palestinian before. In those three years of high school I felt myself become more mature, and my mission was no longer about changing what others think, but about challenging them to consider other points of view as well. I knew there was more than one side to a story because I listened to people tell them, and I had to share this realization with others.
Reflecting on my Seeds of Peace experiences, I can truly say I’m more tolerant of others, less judgmental, and more considerate as a result. I try to listen first, and not to make assumptions about others. This is something that has helped me in life in general, not solely while engaging in political conversations.
I love the network Seeds of Peace creates, this family to which we all belong. Through Seeds of Peace I met some organizations with which I am involved. I play with a band named Heartbeat that brings together young people from different backgrounds to make music. Every time we perform, I feel that I have delivered a message and that my voice is out there. I have found the way to peacefully express my thoughts and feelings. Through Seeds of Peace my world became wider, my family grew bigger, and I became more connected to and aware of what is happening around the world.