Starting at the beginning
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Everything started with Tanguy’s eyewitness account in his school of the 10 days he had just spent in Palestine (Easter 2008) within the context of a citizenship mission set up by Marc Abramowicz. That day, he told the pupils that he was ready to organise a "different trip" for the six-formers of the following year if any of them were interested in a project of cultural exchange and solidarity with young Palestinians living in the Aida refugee camp near Bethlehem in the West Bank.
Eventually, only 3 pupils from the school were interested - Sophie, Diane and Guirec - as well as 2 former pupils (who by the way were former members of the school Amnesty Group) - Bénédicte and Marine - soon joined by Théodore and Julien, met during of the different preparation activities we had (lectures, theater plays...), together with Anne-Claire, part of the project from the first day, Laetitia and Louise who had heard about it from a friend’s friend, in other words, who had to be there : in short a group of 7 young people (15-20 years old) and 4 less young ones (27-48 years old).
Our first task was to know a bit more about the country and the israelo-palestinian conflict, which we did with the help of different partners : les Halles de Schaerbeek (Festival Masarat), - l’UPJB (Union des Progressistes juifs de Belgique), l’ABP (Association Belgo-Palestinienne), and Philippe from the GSARA for a short training in video and photo techniques. From Octobre 2008 to March 2009, we took part in various cultural and artistic activities (lien vers compte-rendu).-
Meanwhile, we got in touch with Martine, a Belgian volunteer working for several years in the Aida camp where we intended to go and whom Tanguy had met during his Easter 2008 trip. She had offered to try and find young people from the camp who would be interested in our meeting-and-exchange project.
Here is the mail we sent them end of October 2008 :
Hello, bonjour, salam from Belgium!
We are a group of French-speaking girls and boys living in Belgium (Brussels and Tournai). Here, we only know what the media show us about the situation in Palestine, which is very little and probably not always accurate. Last year, Tanguy (our former mathematic teacher) spent 1 week in Palestine and told us about it. We all felt moved and started to dream of going to Palestine and meeting young people living there – you..
Last week-end, we met Marianne Blume, a lady who taught French in Gaza for ten years and who explained to us the origins of the conflict, what happened and is still happening to the Palestinians and their country. We are now even more interested in meeting real Palestinian people!
Our project is to go to your country in April 2009 and stay in Aïda for about 10 days during which we would like to get to know you, hear you tell us about your life and dreams and tell you about ours. We would love to exchange things (ideas, music, dessert recipes J… ). We also thought it would be great to prepare an illustrated report together with you (film and interview each other). What do you think? Tell us!
As you can see, most of us can speak and understand English, so please don’t answer only in Arabic J. We hope you’ll answer soon !
We also sent a picture of the group while some of us described themselves (yet without telling where they were on the picture) so as to let our correspondents guess who’s who.
HELLO TO OUR BELGIAN FRIENDS!
My name is Mazen, I’m 18 years old, I live in Doha city in Bethlehem. I sing in a rap group , we sing Arabic rap music to express things about ourselves and the issue in our country. I like travelling and my hobbies are photographing and acting. I’m trying to make a friends from the whole world so I would appreciate to make friend with you. I hope to see you soon, keep smiling !
My name is Manar, I’m 19 years old, I’m studying Educational sports at Al-Quds University. My hobbies are dancing, swimming, travelling, cooking. I would like to visit other countries in the world to see different places.
My name is Ahmed,, I’m 20 years old, I’m studying in Bethlehem University as Information Technologies student. I work in Al-Rowwad Center as a IT system volunteer. I’m also part of the theater group. I like computing, theatre, doing debka dance, clowning I like creating friendly relationships with people around the world. I hope to meet your group as soon as possible.
My name is Maysaa’ . I’m 21 years old, I’m studying administration and marketing at Al-Quds Open University. I love Palestine so much, it’s like my soul. My hobbies are swimming, travelling, and making very nice friendly relationships to make our life here nicer.
My name’s Salam, I’m 18 years old, I study V at the Open University. I have one sister and I work in Al-Rowwad Center as a volunteer. I’m a theatre actor and I visited France and Egypt during a tour with our Center. I like the idea of creating a friendly relationship with you so much ! I will be the contact person for this project. See you soon my friends
My name is Ahmad, I’m 20 years old. I am interested in photography, drama, theatre. I join in many activities organised in Al-Rowwad Cultural and Theatre Training center. I have one brother, 5 sisters. I am the eldest. I like having friendly relationships with many people and I will be happy to have a friendly relationship with you. (I had to leave before they took the picture but there will be other opportunities of showing my face, for sure.)
I am Ribal. I am 19 years old and I’m studying Law at Alquds University. I play theatre and I went to Belgium last summer with the Al-Rowwad theatre group. I like travelling very much because it is an opportunity to meet people and make new friends. I am also a volunteer in AlRowwad Center. I organise activities for the youth of the camp. We all hope to be able to contact you very soon, maybe via skype or another software. So we will be able to talk to each other. That will be fun. We are sure that we will organize nice activities together
The Palestinian Group