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Holy Places are of special importance to the Palestinian Christian identity. Palestinian Christians consider themselves to be the “Living Stones,” the guardians of the Holy Places. However, despite this many Palestinian Christians are not fully aware of the local, ancient roots of Palestinian Christianity in the land of Palestine. Becoming more aware of this will strengthen their sense of roots and identity as a religious community, and prevents their alienation from the land which in the past actually supported their emigration.
Moreover, raising awareness of the Holy Places among Palestinian Christian youth makes it also more possible that they become involved in the future in presenting those places to local and international visitors, who in this way become more aware of the Palestinian Christian community and their roots.
40 mainly Christian students from the Bethlehem area,
- made photos during 5 fieldtrips to Holy Palces,
- wrote brief stories or impressions related to the photos chosen,
- made 2 photo exhibits(indoor-outdoor), including a selection of 40 of the best photos.
- And made a digital photo exhibit for the website of AEI.
“I have worked at AEI since 2009 after finishing first a BA in radio and TV broadcast at the 6 October University in Cairo, Egypt. Still I have good memories of my time in Cairo in 2007-8. People there were poor but friendly and had respect for the Palestinians as an oppressed people. From my school time on I have always liked everything related to TV. That’s why I also chose Egypt as study place.
Shireen is a wonderful young woman, born and bred in Berlin, coming home to Bethlehem, Palestine every Summer to stay with her relatives. Now she has been here for three months, working as the ideal volunteer at both Sumud Story House and Youth Media House of the AEI. She speaks Arabic, German of course and English, studies journalism in Berlin and hopes to learn Spanish as well and what's more, she wants to come and live in Palestine and be a journalist/translator/teacher here! "I love living in an extended family, it makes me happy and I found out I can teach!"
By Toine van Teeffelen, head education AEI
On May 15, Palestinians commemorate the Nakhbeh or the “disaster” which befell them in 1948 when some 750.000 inhabitants of historical Palestine were forced to flee to neighboring countries or became “internally displaced” persons. The awareness about the Nakbeh is growing in the world. Like “Intifada,” it is a term closely associated with the Palestinian experience.
Living in the Holy Land: Respecting Differences
AEI’s inter-religious learning project “Living in the Holy Land: Respecting Differences” goes back as far as the end of the 1990s when it was initially implemented at schools in Bethlehem. Later on more schools followed, including in the Ramallah area. Until last year a total of 11 schools participated, sometimes with more classes at one school. An in-house youth group of teenagers at AEI also takes part.