By Raed G., The United States | Monday, July 9th, 2018

Waking to the sounds of the birds chirping in the morning and stepping outside to feel the cool northern breeze as it wrinkles the leaves and blows the tall grass. The day has yet to begin and I am already looking forward to more. After eating green olives, labneh, bread and zaatar we have the energy to begin our day and maintain our focus on the important and valuable people that we are fortunate to meet. The Birzeit Universities campus is covered with green shrubbery and vibrant young faces fill the open space.

The people there resemble the architecture, strong and sturdy with beauty and character. The faculty hosting us are the future of Palestine. I felt honored at their enthusiasm to speak with us as the KTH delegation representing our diverse diaspora. The presentation consisted of many appeals to our identity, history and most importantly our future. My dreams had come true when I found out about the Palestinian Arabic Studies (PAS) program offered at Birzeit University. To join the program meant that I would dedicate three intense months towards learning Arabic. I felt determined, as determined as the student who conjured up the courage and the patience to bring back the memories of trying times when conflict permeated University life.

The next stop was the Ministry of Commerce in Ramallah where we heard the testimonies Palestinian politicians working hard to lighten their countries’ load by building programs to support families in need. With a stroke of confidence from the positive words we heard we set off for the ancient city of Jericho. The governor of Jericho had the presence of a warrior with a heart of gold. His confidence uplifted my spirit and his assurance strengthened my will. He was truly an exemplary politician with a command of the history and implications of a relentless occupation on an oppressed people, the Palestinians.

At last the end of the day had arrived and we set off to the Dead Sea for a dip in the warm mineral soup. This was the same place that if permitted access by Israel could increase Palestine’s GDP by 6 billion American dollars. Our group was impatient to enter the long awaited sea. All of us were alive with anticipation.

What a wonderful way to end my 3rd day in Palestine.