Lajee Centre has just wrapped up its 19th International Summer Work Camp, a two-week annual programme that gives internationals the opportunity to learn about Palestinian culture and the struggle for human rights and life under occupation.
During the camp, the participants are submerged in Palestinian culture by way of food, music, dance, history, films, politics, field trips, volunteer work and interaction with the community of the Aida camp, which helps widen the participants’ knowledge of various and diverse fields, such as history, education, health, culture and politics among others.
Activities include lectures from Palestinian activists, visits to other organizations, museums, film screenings, trips in different cities and camps in the West Bank, spending time with families, volunteers and staff of Lajee Centre.
Other activities included Arabic lessons, Dabke dance lessons, practical work in the centre, leisure time with staff, volunteers and community members in addition to educational lectures given by various units of the center. This helped to create a connection with the people that host and make this programme possible and introduce the internationals to the context of life under occupation in the West Bank.
This goal encompasses with the willingness of outreaching as many people as possible that Lajee Centre offers with this camp. The programme also boosts and encourages internationals to think critically thanks to first-hand reality witnessed on the ground, drifting apart from mainstream /western media that the world is mainly exposed to.
To enumerate a few of the leisure activities mentioned above, the internationals had the opportunity to spend time with families and cook with them Palestinian traditional food. They also organized activities for the kids of the Summer Camp that Lajee hosts every year, or they spent a night camping in the desert with the staff and volunteers of the centre, what brought them the possibility to enjoy getting closer to each other and to the astonishing nature around them.
In addition to the time spent observing and learning in Aida there were visits to both the Deheshe Refugee Camp in Bethlehem and the Balata Camp in Nablus allowing participants to observe similarities and differences in daily life. Day trips to Ramallah and Hebron offered further exposure to art, history and culture where the internationals met locals who guided them through the historical, political and economical context of the cities. The day trips included visits to museums, cultural centres, factories, resource centres and organisations working in the field of justice, human rights, media, among others. These activities allow the participants, not just to learn about the work that locals are doing but also how everyone of them is resisting the Israeli occupation.
After getting to understand the Palestinian cause, participants shared their will to get involved in activities, actions or projects in the long term. One of the ideas to help aid in this goal is to create a platform where participants and staff from Lajee could discuss, propose and follow up on the different ideas.
Participants said that the knowledge gained during the 2 weeks and the manner in which participants were obtaining that knowledge from the Palestinian people made the experience an authentically powerful and tangible one, much greater than anything someone could ever read about or study.