By Faris E.

Excitement filled the air this morning as the delegates prepared for an early departure to King Hussein Bridge. After a half day orientation on how to cross the border, entry into Palestine was finally within reach, and we were ready to see it through.

While we cut through the sand dunes of Jordan towards the bridge, we revised the talking points we had prepared for potential interviews from Israeli security. Still, these things are unpredictable, and most of us were at least slightly nervous.

This mild anxiety only continued once we reached the checkpoint. We entered through the tourist’s side, yet the Palestinian entry side was visible through only a small window that bridged the two worlds. Their room was crowded, and their lines hauntingly long. We were all asked a varying series of questions, all relating to our ancestry.

It was only a four-hour wait, rather than an eight-hour wait with previous delegations. They were four grueling, unnecessary, psychologically manipulative hours. However, this remains record fast by KTH standards thanks to the hard work of KTH leaders who spoke on our behalf.

Once we had finally entered Palestine, we were rewarded by a bus ride passing through golden, mountainous fields, villages, cattle, and olive trees. As we gazed upon the view, you could hear a pin drop in our bus. We all quietly observed and absorbed the beauty of our homeland, filled with exhaustion from the ordeal of crossing, gratitude for the opportunity to witness this, and awe at the powerful resistance of our people. After arriving at our house for the trip, we made our way to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem where the local community welcomed us with Palestinian flags and roses, and many town dignitaries and organizations. From there, we pilgrimaged through the town to the municipality of Birzeit and heard speakers who shared with us our history and traditional foods and coffee, including Birzeit’s own Mayor Ibrahim Saed.

We finished with dinner and a beautiful sunset view of the region, after which we headed to bed to prepare for a busy in Ramallah.