Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Hello, hello? Keefkom? Shoo Akhbarkom? (How are you'all, what your news?)

I figured I would give a wide lense view of what my life looks like here:

I am living in Bethlehem, a city just south of Jerusalem, in what's considered the West Bank or the Occupied Palestinian Territory. These are lands taken by Israel in the 1967 war and which have remained under military occupation since. Israel has not given the Palestinians who live here citizenship, nor equal rights, and largely controls every aspect of their life. Bethlehem itself, along with most of the W. Bank is now cut off by what' called the seperation wall or fence. Bethlehem itself is encircled by (I think) 5 illegal Israeli settlements, villages set up by Israel only for Israelis on Palestinian land inside the W. Bank. These are mini Oasis's in what is otherwise an empoverished palestinian area. Bethlehem thus is slowly being constricted and encircled. Many are emmigrating (especially the christian popualtion) to the US or Europe. It is just too difficult to live here.

I live in a refugee camp with just under 2000 people. The people in camp are Palestinian refugees ( or descendants of refugees) from 1948 when Israel took their land (in what is now Israel). Palestinians are the largest refugee population in the world and the only ones who aren't allowed to return home. For many in my camp, their original village is less than 30km away, but they have never been allowed to return. Many have kept the keys to their homes as a symbol of their plight and hope to return home.

I work Mon-Thurs. at a NGO called Student's Forum. There I speak English with Palestinian university students who want to improve their english. It is great fun and a great opportunity to make friends! In the afternoons I work on Arabic, either on my own or practicing with people from the camp, if possible. I am hoping to get a formal tutor soon. Presently my Arabic is to the point where I can usually make myself understood, though in a very broken Arabic. My mind is often strained from the hard work of producing the correct sounds, much less the correct word or phrase.

My host family consists of 4 brothers and 3 sisters. One of the men is married as is one of the women. They own a little store in the camp that sells odds and ends and is a central hang-out place for a lot of the camp. Its where I often am, waiting for some new adventure. Yesterday I learned that there are about 600 people in the camp fron the same family of the one I live with. Everyone knows everyones names and how they are related to them. Amazing and very cool!

Allright, Ill stop for now. Thanks for reading!


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