Young or old, the Palestinian Summer Celebration is your chance to experience Palestine by living in the Bethlehem area for either one or two unforgettable months!The Summer Celebration is a unique annual program that offers people from around the world countless opportunities to live daily life in Palestine, to experience its rich culture and taste its Mediterranean/Middle Eastern cuisine, to become more familiar with the politics of Palestine and to develop lifelong friendships with its welcoming people.
The program is truly a celebration of learning. You will have the opportunity to learn Arabic at Bethlehem University, spend time with local families and volunteer with a community organization.
The one or two month Summer Celebration program is based in the Bethlehem area, and consists of two terms, which are in July and August 2016. Participants can either choose to stay for one or both terms. The program is organized by the Siraj Center for Holy Land Studies (www.sirajcenter.org) in partnership with the Bethlehem University (www.bethlehem.edu). Program participants will have the opportunity to meet and discuss with accomplished lecturers, experts, activists and government officials.
Volunteer work is an essential part of the Summer Celebration program. It gives the volunteer the opportunity to lend his/her know-how, experience and perspective, and also learn about how a community based organization works and contributes to the local community. Quotes below from previous participants clearly illustrate the positive impact volunteering in Palestine has had on them.
• “The project I was involved in was the Wall Museum project, which aims to put up the posters of Palestinian youth stories on the wall. Mainly I edited English and gave an advice from the perspective of internationals for selecting the best stories for putting up on the wall. It was very interesting to read their stories as they were the real voices of young people in Bethlehem.”
• “You can easily find a placement that suits your interests and personality.”
• I was a writer for the International Middle East Media Center (www.imemc.org), and it was exciting to research and write articles about the occupation and Middle East politics.”
• “Weekend trips traveling the major cities in the occupied West Bank were my favorite part of this program. The weekend trip covered visiting holy places, historical sites, NGOs, delicious restaurants and yummy ice cream shops!
• “The impression of Palestinian people throughout my stay in Palestine and what surprised me greatly was the constant hospitality towards internationals and their positive attitudes in their difficult life circumstances.”
The Siraj Center cooperates with several nonprofit organizations to host the participant during the volunteer work. The participant can choose which organization he/she would like to volunteer in.
Living with a host family gives the participant a unique view into the lives of a typical Palestinian family living under occupation. See and experience firsthand the challenges, as well as the humor that come out in their daily lives’ experiences. Intercultural exchanges naturally take place. Bonds are made and cemented into life-long relationships.
During weekends, visits to other cities, rural areas and Bedouin camps in the Jerusalem Desert are arranged by the Siraj Center. Age-old traditions and hospitality are offered to the visitor. Archaeological sites, holy places of worship, nature, and academic institutions are all visited to further understanding and the learning experience during the Summer Celebration in Palestine. The Holy Land does not only offer religious places, but also a range of other sites and places that are little known to the ordinary tourist. You can walk, hike, bike or float in Palestine!
It would not be a balanced program if you only met with Palestinian officials, artists and representatives from human rights organizations, broadcast centers. Therefore, volunteers have the opportunity to listen to, discuss with and question representatives of the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions (ICAHD) who will speak about the geo-political situation in Jerusalem, and then go on a tour around the city. In addition to ICAHD, meetings are arranged with representatives from B’Tselem, an Israeli NGO committed to documenting and educating the Israeli public about human rights abuses in Occupied Territories, and with other leading figures in the fight for human rights.
Traveling north from Bethlehem to Nazareth and Galilee, participants will learn about the current state of Israel and the 1948 catastrophe. During the excursion, you will meet with Ittijah, a coalition of Arab community organizations, and have the chance to tour destroyed and unrecognized villages. Haifa, Jaffa and Akko and a number of holy sites will also be visited!
The Palestinian Summer Celebration is guaranteed to offer you life-altering experiences and unforgettable memories!
July 3rd – 30th 2016 – First month
July 31st to August 26th – Second month