This is a blog that captures our 70 days experience in Palestine.
We are Ida, from Finland, and Tea, from Slovenia, and we are volunteers working in Bethlehem, Palestine, experiencing new things in a new environment and we simply just want to share our view and the things we learn here.
We have both been involved in the youth sector for years and this is how we met a few years ago, based on the fact we are also both youth trainers of non-formal education. This means that we have been working on organising in implementing educational activities, mostly in the youth sector with the aim to transfer the knowledge, empower young people and facilitate various processes among youth people and different stakeholders. We have been doing this in our own countries and at the European level. We met in the Pool of trainers and facilitators of the European Youth Forum that gathers trainers from all over Europe, where we had an opportunity to work with each other, and we realised we have a lot of things in common and we want to find more possibilities to address our interests together.
In the fall of 2016, we started talking about exploring new things, face something beyond known, to go aboard and challenge ourselves in a different environment. And we came up with an idea to do volunteer work in Palestine. Being involved in volunteering and youth sector at European level equipped us with knowledge and awareness of different programmes that can support our initiative. We were very much familiar with the European volunteer service (EVS) that allows young people to do volunteer work in differed countries within Europe and beyond and we decided to try it out.
It resulted in finding an organisation in Palestine, and based on the description, in a second, we fell in love in CDCE-I. “Community Development and Continuing Education Institute” is a non-governmental non-profit organization with a firm belief in the values of pluralism, equality, good governance, civic participation, and human rights within the Palestinian society. They work at Palestine Ahliya University College who are their strategic partners and they became our host organisation here in Palestine, offering us time, space and activities to get involved in.
Affiliation with organisations in our countries, Voluntariat from Slovenia and Allianssi from Finland made them our sending organisations. We wrote an EVS project that was granted within the Erasmus + programme which presents the framework of what we are going to do here.
We are going to work at the CDCE-I, helping them with their activities, such as trainings for young people, sharing our own experiences and expertise, developing new projects and contributing to the broader community. Moreover, we are going to learn from them, and from the society where we are in right now, face and overcome personal and professional challenges and be exposed to different cultural environment.
We are staying with a host family in Dheisheh refugee camp. It is a fourth largest refugee camp in the West Bank, located south of Bethlehem and it has very lively community. The most visible example of this is probably the Ibdaa cultural centre, that offers accommodation facilities for visitors, infrastructure, space and opportunities for various educational, cultural, sport and leisure activities, and it is simply a place for chilling there and playing board games, cards, and so much more.
This is not a traveling blog and it is not only reporting on what we see here. We aim to present also an educational element of our experience and reflect on it. As we are both trainers we use educational methods in our work and this is what we want to use in a blog as well. We are strong believes of non-formal education so the methods are going to be used in developing articles, pictures and other contributions we are going to publish. We are keen to learn and explore, evaluate and reflect on this and share it with other. We hope with this we will show and make people understand what we are doing and why we are doing it.
And maybe it will even inspire someone.