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  • Writer's pictureLauren

Palestine: the place

It is kind of impossible to remove Palestine from the politics because it is so evident in the way that Palestinian people live. You go into Palestine and you see walls surrounding you, to even get into the Palestinian territories you have to go through check points with police officers that check your passport and status. For us, a bus full of American kids the checkpoints ended up being not a big deal, but for Palestinians the checkpoints are a daily struggle that dictate how and when they can move around the country. It was a stark contrast from what we experienced in the Israeli territories, where Israel was more modern the Palestinian territories did not have the same resources in certain areas.

Palestine is a beautiful place, full of a vibrant people and culture that I loved and wanted to immerse myself in. We went to the West Bank and into Ramallah. Two of the places that we visited stuck out to me the most, Bethlehem and Rawabi. The two places contrasted each other a lot, Bethlehem is an ancient city, known for being the birthplace of Jesus. Rawabi is a brand new city and the only planned city in all of Palestine.

Bethlehem was a hub of culture and religion. While there we visited the Church of the Nativity. You can walk through the church and go down the grotto to see the spot where Jesus was born, it was a very powerful moment for me to see and touch the spot where Jesus was born. Bethlehem was a very cool place and I liked that it was an environment where we were actually able to see the life of people in the city. We also got to go through the market areas that was full of color and flavor. Our tour guide through this was Palestinian and talked to us a lot about the struggles that the Palestinian people faced on a daily basis, we also had the opportunity to speak with the former Mayor of Bethlehem and she was very powerful when describing the needs of the Palestinian people.

A truly amazing site of Palestine is the town of Rawabi. Rawabi is the only planned city in Palestine. It is built completely from scratch and is meant to be a city by Palestinians for Palestinians and is a stunning site. Even riding up to it you can see the detail that was put into each part of the city. There is a town square, shops, a huge amphitheater and even an adventure park. When we got the tour of the city one of the engineers told us how they saw Rawabi as a place of hope for what Palestine can become. The city is still being completed and when it is done plans to include several schools, a mosque, church, and even a nightclub. . The city still faces challenges due to the Israeli government like getting approval for roads that go in and out of the city as well as getting approval for gas and electricity.

Even through this city has faced its challenges it continues to be a place of innovation and growth for the Palestinian people. To me the whole experience of going into Palestine was eye opening, the culture is colorful and bright, the good is delicious, and the people are full of light, hope and resilience.



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