By Huda Rabah, Ontario, Canada | Saturday, July 14th, 2018

With a spirit of determination and mind full of innovation, the delegates woke up bright and early to begin the set up of the highly anticipated 7th Annual Palestinian Diaspora Conference. With the generous help from Birzeit University, this unique conference brings together Palestinians from within the homeland and around the globe in order to create a great opportunity for knowledge sharing, project collaboration and inspiring dialogue.

On this day, Know thy Heritage (KTH) successfully congregated many university students and established promising joint committees from three esteemed Palestinian Universities: Birzeit University, Bethlehem University and An-Najah University. Although there is a focus on investments and Palestinian entrepreneurship, this year’s conference emphasizes an imperative discussion on how to strengthen and maintain the connection and networking system of Palestinian youth initiatives globally.

KTH strongly believes in the importance of solidifying the youth’s passion for Palestinian excellence, especially since our country’s youth are the future leaders, innovators and key holders to Palestine’s freedom. Not only did the conference allow diaspora to feel more connected to Palestine, but it also provided its participants with valuable experience to investigating significant issues associated with Palestine and its people. Our lengthily list of esteemed guests joined us on three different panels in order to discuss complex, yet fundamental topics such as ‘Countering Negative Practices in Jerusalem and the American Stand on Jerusalem,’ and ‘Building Palestine through Business, Tourism, and Investment.’ Each of the delegates proudly introduced each honourable speaker to the panel, as well as initiated discussion with the panel members in order to gain a more specified insight on the explored themes. With the knowledge and ideas gathered from the two starting panels, the KTH delegates and other Palestinian youth put their thoughts together in a powerful brainstorming session focused on the topic of  ‘Empowering and Connecting Palestinian Youth from Around the World.’ This panel offered a more intimate opportunity for the youth at the conference as it consisted of three different breakout sessions, where the conference attendees were organized into smaller groups in order to discuss the empowerment of Palestinian youth through three topics: Education and Job Creation, Solidarity, Advocacy and Organizational Mobilization and lastly, Social Media and Networking. Through these deliberations, the members were able to present their overall ideas and concepts for each topic in order to collaborate with each other to formulate an ultimate resolution.

The group members found that a common theme in all the topics is utilizing the vast world of social networking in order to connect youth with mentors in their field of work, and also bring together like-minded individuals from the thousands of Palestinian advocacy organizations across the globe. This provides opportunities to share experiences, strengthen the bond between Palestinians and provide a safe space of youth to create initiatives that reinforce the Palestinian cause. One promising idea that was explored is the concept of creating a KTH Youth App that offers a multifaceted platform similar to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram combined. Through this, diaspora can connect, discuss and share vital information that relates back to awareness and advocacy, in order inspire each young Palestinian to serve their country with their own distinctive skill set.

By the end of the event, members were not only sharing laughs and thoughts, but also exchanging contact information, in order for the KTH team leaders to create online forums with a goal of continuing the discussion even after the diaspora return to their respective countries. Additionally, KTH is delighted to announce that the 8th Palestinian Diaspora conference for 2019 will also be in partnership with Birzeit University and it’s talented staff and students.

As the KTH delegates returned back to Birzeit, we felt proud and honoured to participate in the Annual Palestinian Diaspora Conference, as we can confidently say that due to KTH, the old may pass away, but the young will never forget!