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.
Interview with AEI youth coordinator
Roger (“you can write my name with both ‘j’ and ‘g’”) has worked for almost five years as youth coordinator at AEI. “With a family of 5 brothers and one sister, I am proud to be a Bethlehemite who comes from one of the oldest quarters in Bethlehem, the Farajeh. I feel especially proud to be born close to the Church of Nativity, a holy place visited by so many pilgrims from all around the world. Bethlehem is really a city of all nations.
Word from the director
“I’m completely destroyed, sad and hopeless since my olive trees, my apple grove, my vineyard and my apricot orchard have been surrounded by this serpent, the Wall. I have a plot of land in the Cremisan valley, and I earn from the harvest. Once the Israelis put a checkpoint at the land of Cremisan, so I was obliged to climb a fence. I broke my back and leg. I stayed at the hospital for some months. Until now I’m in bed.
Youth and women developing themselves, gaining a voice, supporting the community
Five youth groups come weekly together in the Youth Media House of AEI ijn the center of Bethlehem. There are enough talking points: How do you keep human values in the difficult situation of occupation and limited freedom of movement? What to think of the Arab Spring and the relations between Moslems and Christians?