Archives for category: Kirsten

So our time here has come to an end and the closing ceremony last night was a powerful one. Between delivering our attempted speech in Arabic, then English, attending the global village, playing volleyball with the students, doing our first ever radio interview and then eventually leaving Nablus, it’s difficult to process that our time here is finished. Yet even though it went by in the blink of an eye, the memories made here will certainly last a life time. As Gioel would say, I’ve taken a ‘mental picture’ and they will stay with me always. In this picture I see a unique landscape, an intricate history and a people who embrace their identity without question. This picture of Palestine and the lovely students of An-Najah I can share with everyone.

To everyone I’ve met during my time here, thank you for the experience. You have shown me genuine warmth that feels like seeing an old friend. Not only the students, but the wonderful volunteers who without this workshop wouldn’t have been possible.

All I could ask of the students is to find their drive and allow that ‘why’ to guide them through everything they may face. Having a Palestinian identity may present its challenges but always know that this identity is not a limitation but an advantage.

Finally, I have to thank my fellow Recrear colleagues. Sharing this experience with you all has been a part of the reason why it has been so wonderful. No matter what, I know each of you will be a constant in my life for my foreseeable future, and knowing this makes me smile from inside out.

Ana ohiboukum!

Being here has inspired a multitude of possibilities for future projects here. The future is incredibly exciting, and expect that Recrear will be back in Palestine sooner than you think! To the students: keep pushing boundaries because when I come back I want to hear all about it.

Take care!



I’m terrified my thoughts are going to run away with me so here is my attempt to catch everything in writing. Since I’ve been here I have forgotten that I’m still a student studying to attain a degree. But that’s just it, I’m not just a student. I never was, and neither are the students of An-Najah. They are individuals with real possibilities who are only now learning that there is no real cue for embracing your potential. These students are so appreciative of what we’re doing and have kindly appraised us but ultimately I look out at the crowd and see many people who are the same age as me, many of them even older. Who have the same enthusiasm about life and more uniquely a passion about their identity as Palestinians. It’s like seeing all the right ingredients lined up but yet to be mixed together. Ultimately there is never a wrong time to take initiative.
Truly, I don’t believe in obstacles. More simply it’s a matter of getting over the fear of trying something new. This resonates even more here where a history of conflict and a slowly changing cultural dynamic has given few spaces for youth here to pursue a desire without invitation. To the students, if you’re reading this: this is your invite to go forth blindly and boldly because that is where development happens. Know that people may laugh at you, think your ideas and your general will to be crazy, but none of that matters when you ultimately succeed in the end. Convert the non-believers by proving them wrong.

As I’ve said time and time again, you all truly do have a story to tell. The joie de vivre these students have is inspiring. It’s moving to see how much these students value the most basic facets of individual welfare: things like family, and their national identity as Palestinians. Although they may not be able to count on stability at the macro level of their lives, they reject the idea that such political affairs should ever get in the way of their ability to enjoy life, however simple. That to me is beautiful.

When I facilitated the Development Theatre session with the students today, I saw glimpses of that radiance come out. It amazes me to no end to think that they can bravely come in front of an audience and share their story – the ‘why’, in a language that is only second to them. It’s sad to think this is the last session, but I hope that these students turn away from the idea of impossible and embrace their identity as a prized possession and not a hindrance.


I had the honor of delivering a session on building your professional network for the students today. I can’t speak for the participants but I certainly saw myself feeding off the energy in the room. Much of what I had to say really only reinforced some of the knowledge they already have themselves. Their understanding of the concepts and the answers they had to share where both impressive and informative for myself. Again I am convinced that it is these motivated people that will find success

In truth, this is my favorite type of audience. They take the material seriously and yet they are able to take everything with a great sense of humor. That to me is the type of energy in youth  that is needed to begin positive movements towards change.

Later in the day I witnessed this yet again when the student groups presented the projects they had been working on. You might remember that in my opening blog I mentioned how much potential there was floating around – ideas going unnoticed. Well today, they were noticed. The  spotlight was on them and it suited them so well. Many of these students were born innovators, change agents and others are getting excited because they have realized they have the capacity to be great.

Sometimes I wonder if they see what my colleagues and I do. Here they are, presenting in a foreign language – already hard enough to do, and doing it with such natural confidence. It is beyond admirable and what’s more is that they are genuinely curious about each other’s projects, asking questions, showing support and that is probably the most assuring thing. What that lets me know is that even once we are gone there is some form of a support network that could exist. It’s only up to them to make sure they utilize it.

Given the ideas I’ve seen today, I honestly think that every project here is worth pursuing. I really appreciate the amount of thought, passion and creativity has gone into these projects and sincerely hope that the participants will go forth and implement these projects. I promise that if they were to carry out these projects I will do my part and spread the word in my own community back home about what the students of An-Najah are doing.

Between the time I spend in workshops working with these students and at some point yesterday, watching the sunset in the village of Aseera, I find myself becoming absolutely enamored with this place and the people. Tonight especially sealed my love for this place when I was invited into the home of a Palestinian family and warmly welcomed. Wonderful traditional cooking, a lovely family, and engaging unforgettable conversation that leads me to believe more and more about how limited our perceptions have been about the daily lives of these people.  They never cease to amaze me. I’m sorry if I sound like a broken record, but these are the only thoughts on my mind. Sheer awe.

I can’t believe it’s only been four days but I’m exhausted and glad to have the day off tomorrow to explore Jericho.



I’ve had a great time instructing the sessions at Al-Najah. I really would do this for a living; and maybe someday I will. But for now, my regular life calls me to London, and that is where you will be able to find me from tonight.

I feel like I’ve had a largely positive impact and reception at the university. I don’t think that people were shy to ask me questions, even if they weren’t comfortable with the English language. It would have been great to stick around and develop my relationships with the students to an even greater extent. Alas, it was not to be.

However, the new addition to the team, K (yet another one). . . . is someone that all the students will instantly take to. Our flights miss each other by just 15 minutes and, in all probability, we’ll both be on the same tarmac in Tel-Aviv as her flight lands and mine prepares to take off.

As I mentioned to the team last night, when I joined Recrear at the Berlin Conference 5 months ago, I would never have imagined having a few drinks in Jerusalem after having successfully completed Part 1 of Recrear-Apply, with people who were only recently strangers to me.

This good fortune is owed in large part to K, and her insistence that I visit her in Berlin at this conference which, I will admit, I knew nothing about when I landed in Germany.

Although it goes without saying, I would like to ask, that if you are an Al-Najah student reading this then please extend to her, as you have to us, the warmest possible welcome.

K, if you are reading this, bonne chance! And, juste leblanc. 😀