The emotions that I experienced in the last two weeks have added another piece of heart to my mind. After a semester of intense studying and reading on “development”, getting on the ground and putting my ideas into practice is stimulating.

In so many moments during this trip I had déjà vu of my courses at Cambridge University. The people I have talked to in Nablus should be all PhD students. Discussing their struggles and aspirations, they were encompassing in simple, straightforward words the concepts that I have been thinking of intensely. But they speak with a level clarity that makes their words so profound.

Delivering Recrear-Apply! was illuminating through highlighting the gap between the knowledge that you can gain in a class environment and the epiphanies that only face-to-face, heart-to-heart interaction can generate. I hope that the students that attended Recrear-Apply! can feel the excitement that I have felt organizing this workshop and their projects.

This project took the dust off of my ‘WHY’ (In Kirsten’s Recrear-Apply language). My aspirations, ideas and vision are fertile around people and I strive for a balance between loving people around me to death and learning by doing.

– GG

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We have been emphasizing the importance of extra-curricular activities, especially for gaining practical experience in the field… here is a compilation of our extra-curricular activities this week at RecrearApply! total immersion with the help of some friends.

Film at the Centre Culturel Francais
Visit to Aseera
Dinner at Mr. Mohammad’s house

– KM

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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.

excitement!

KW

What a whirlwind few days! I am sitting in a session on project development right now and my mind is being blown. Yesterday, we challenged the students to create project proposals in  groups of 8-10 and to present them in front everyone during today’s session.  Some of these students have never presented in front of a large group of people, most have never presented in English.

Wow. They are truly incredible.  We have seen presentations for groups aimed to help advise high school students on what degree to choose for university (there are no academic advisors for high school students in Nablus) so they can have a ‘Better Life’.  One group proposed creating a centre for only women in the Old City of Nablus – a place where women can mix and mingle together, exercise, spend time and share.  Another tried to rally the students to give up one week’s worth of cigarettes and cell phone credit for Palestinian’s situated in refugee camps in Lebanon.

I am beyond excited by their ideas and the potential of these ideas. I hope and encourage the students to make each proposal a reality.  Some of the groups are already committed to begin implementation of their projects next semester.  My mind can’t even handle imagining the impact these students will have on their communities.

This morning, I sat down with nine students for interviews for the documentary I’m working on of our time here in Nablus – nine brilliant, joyful, driven students who left a huge painful smile on my face.  I can’t wait to go home and edit all the footage I’ve been collecting.  There are literally five different documentaries that I could make from all the different focuses and stories I’ve documented!

Last night one of the students, Alaa, invited us to his village to have a barbeque.  The level of hospitality, acceptance and love I felt with all the people we met from the village and all of Alaa’s friends was incredible.  It is hard for me to properly address in words the emotions and happiness I felt while we were singing, dancing and talking around the fire.  I was on a high when we arrived back to the apartments.

I want to take a moment now, with one day of workshops left, to thank every individual who we have met from the bottom of my soul.  Each of you has left a lasting impression on me; I hope I have done the same.

This was more of a ramble than a coherent blog post… hope you enjoyed!

– KM

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For the second time in a week, students at the An-Najah National University were able to see into the lives of other students studying similar programs across the globe via a video conference with students from the University of New Orleans, Louisiana in the south of the United States.

The session is just one of over a dozen that are being implemented over two weeks by Recrear, an international non-governmental organization based in Berlin, Germany that focuses on helping youth around the world.

“We are here to inspire confidence in the youth of the world to carry out their own projects of international development,” said founder and project coordinator Gioel Gioacchino.  The two weeks training workshop, ‘Recrear-Apply!’ is geared towards inspiring Palestinian students to improve their English skills and build strong resumes by researching and making connections to other Universities in the world.

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“The Recrear staff on the ground here in Palestine is comprised of students just like the ones we are helping at An-Najah.  We want to connect the community of An-Najah to our home communities to help share our story and show where we come from.  It’s important they see their possibilities are not limited as Palestinians, but instead, that they hold the power to create the future they aspire for,” said Kevin Potter, one of the Recrear organizers.

The video conference lasted almost an hour as the students volleyed questions between the two campuses.  Food and culture were hot topics as both sides were eager to describe their favorite dishes such as the Palestinian dish ‘Upside Down’.  With the fact the University of New Orleans is home to the top Naval Marine and Naval Architecture Engineering program in the US, the future engineers of An-Najah were very interested in departmental student organizations, student life, and real-world applications that complimented the curriculum in New Orleans.

The UNO students shared their passion and pride for their University programs and also discussed the differences in the two student bodies.  “We actually had students from Palestine at our New Student Orientation yesterday,” responded Emily Srofe, an Orientation Leader present in the conference.  “We have students from all over the world that come here to study with us.”

The Recrear-Apply! Workshop will end this Sunday with a global village at An-Najah University, all are welcome to attend.

-KP

Dear all,

I hope you enjoyed today’s session and you are feeling prepared for tomorrow’s presentation.

If you are interested in attending a program at the University of Cambridge (UK), here are some interesting scholarships you should consider applying for.

To read about the scholarships available in Cambridge, plase visit:

http://www.cambridgetrusts.org/scholarships/search/?country=123&submit=Search

I would particularly draw your attention to the IDB Cambridge Scholarships for PhD, where a separate application should be made to the Islamic Development Bank, and the Said Foundation Cambridge Scholarships for one-year postgraduate study.

Here is a list of other scholarships available in Cambridge that are specific for PhDs:

I hope this helps. If you have questions, please ask!

Gioel

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Yesterday, An-Najah students participated in a videoconference with students from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada.

Recrear, an international non-governmental organization focused on helping youth around the world, implemented the session with 100+ students at the university. This was one session of a two weeks long training workshop, ‘RecrearApply!’.

“It’s an incredible opportunity for the community here.  Although, it’s a simple idea to connect students in each country, it’s never happened here before, or for the students in Canada,” said Komal Minhas, one of the Recrear organizers.

For forty-five minutes, the students from Canada asked questions about the barriers students in Palestine faced during the Intifada, how they persevered through those experiences and what life is like now as a student in Palestine.  Students from An-Najah were curious about how students at Carleton react to women in hijabs and how to effectively manage your time as a full-time student.

“An-Najah is very excited about this initiative.  This is the first of two sessions this week where our students in Nablus will connect with international students.  Today, we are going to hold a conference with students from New Orleans,” said Mohammad Dwaikat, professor at An-Najah and the main faculty coordinator of the RecrearApply! project.

The RecrearApply! workshop will end this Sunday with a global village at An-Najah University, all are welcome to attend.

So my colleagues had told me to expect the vast number of students, the enthusiasm, the wonderful hospitality and to be impressed and blown away by everything I see and hear. Well, they were right. Moreover, following in the foot steps of my dear friend and co worker Q.M will be no easy task but I always love a good challenge 🙂

All I can say is that it feels like being in a room that is thriving with potential. What they have to offer is beyond measure and yet they are still discovering this themselves. At first this is strange to me but after hearing some of them share their stories, why wouldn’t they think that way. Their world is so much more closed off than the one my colleagues and I live in. Yet amidst the struggles their is an immense amount of positive energy floating around. Good ideas going unnoticed and ready to be lifted off the ground. That is why we are here. We aren’t imparting ideas but rather the tools they need to empower their own ideas.

At least for myself, I’d like to leave this place knowing that these students feel that it is well within their reach to achieve great things. I’m thrilled an excited to catch up and get to know the students here as best I can in the little time available to us. If you’re a participant reading this, keep up the enthusiasm up! It’s wonderful and it’s always the healthy first step in learning to develop your capabilities.

K.W