If you would have told me a couple of months ago that I would be able to visit Palestine in the near future, I would have probably laughed at your face and told you, “don’t be silly.” But here I am, writing this article, trying to put into words the more than amazing experience I recently had there. Previously, when I thought about Palestine, I pictured the images provided by the media that portrayed bombs, terror, danger, chaos, and death. It looked like atrocious things were happening to those people. I don’t like to judge any side of this conflict, as my political understanding of it is not broad enough yet. But, what I can say with absolute certainty, though, is that the Palestinians I met were incredibly warm and probably the most welcoming people I have met so far on this journey. I stayed with a host family in Burham, a small village next to Ramallah, which is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. For the well being of their guests, they would go to great lengths, and even relinquish their own well-being in order for their guests to feel comfortable. While walking the streets of Ramallah, my thoughts wandered a couple thousand years back, and I wondered how people would decide to settle down in such a place, in the midst of rock valleys and desert winds, and build their homes there. I admired those people, and I couldn’t help but reflect this determination and strength to the modern day Palestinians, whose conditions in terms of hostile environment haven’t changed much since then.
Not only did I get to go to Palestine, but I also got to go to a Palestinian wedding! Again, something I had never thought I would ever get to do. There, I quickly learned that this is how it works: if you deal with a Palestinian, you deal with his whole family.
But Palestine was just the beginning. There are so many more amazing experiences awaiting me, so many incredible people to meet, so many breathtaking places yet to see. Who knows, maybe my next article is going to be about a journey to Canada, Russia or even New Zealand. EMIS gave me this great gift of introducing me to all these beautiful people who willingly share their homes with strangers who they have only known for one month. Living through the ups and downs of a boarding school, a friend becomes much more then a friend: they become the comforting shoulders of a mother in times of sadness, the wise words of a father in times of confusion, and the much needed slap of a brother in times of unreasonability. They become your family. And I am beyond happy to consider myself part of this family.
By Lavinia Gavrilovici
Edited by Hannah Cook