By Reem EL

Day 9 of the KTH 2023 program was charged with anticipation as we readied ourselves for the upcoming 10th International Diaspora Conference on the horizon. Our dedicated delegates worked tirelessly to set the stage at Arab American University Ramallah Branch, where a diverse group of volunteers transformed the auditorium into a visionary gathering space. Name tags, registration tables, microphones, and audiovisual resources were meticulously arranged, in anticipation of distinguished guests ranging from influential members of parliament to industry trailblazers and passionate Palestinian advocates. Conference supporters firmly believe in awakening, enlightening, and bridging the gap between the global Palestinian Diaspora and those living on their ancestral land. During a break from preparations, our team savored traditional cheese manakish for lunch.

While some of the conference volunteers remained busy preparing the venue, others among our delegates took a well-deserved rest day at our Ramallah hotel or explored the city. A few chose to visit family in nearby towns.

After the afternoon’s preparations concluded, volunteers returned to the hotel to continue their day. Some ventured to the Dead Sea, experiencing an unforgettable adventure. The Israeli influence at the Dead Sea was apparent, marked by flags and Hebrew-speaking shopkeepers. Arabic music, including remixes of familiar songs, played in the background. Despite the surroundings, it was clear that Arab and Palestinian cultural elements such as food and music held their charm even in such seemingly pro-Israeli areas.

Upon arriving at the Dead Sea, we descended a steep slope, navigating steps and ramps to reach the Earth’s lowest point. The remarkably salty water allowed us to effortlessly float, although it stung our eyes upon contact. Fortunately, a lifeguard provided relief with fresh water. We also indulged in the renowned nourishing mud, applying it to our skin for its moisturizing properties.

After a few hours of enjoyment at the lowest point on Earth, we returned to our hotel. There, we dined and held a debriefing session, preparing for the eventful day and conference that awaited us the following morning.