Wetskills Palestinian Territories 2022 –
by Marie Czwielung (HZ University of Applied Sciences)
I applied at Wetskills mainly to improve my cultural awareness and learn more about how professionals in the field of water work in other countries. When I saw that there is a project in the Palestinian territories I immediately knew that I needed to go. I’ve always been very interested in the middle east and Palestine in particular and have not had the opportunity to experience this culture yet. When I got the message that I’ve been accepted into wetskills I was incredibly happy but also immediately a little bit scared. As Europeans we think we know what is going on in the area as we continue to follow the news and we also have certain stereotypes and thoughts about the culture in general.
When my trip came closer friends and family continued to tell me that they are worried about me going to Palestine which also increased my anxiety, but as soon as I crossed the border I could feel the incredibly welcoming and open hearted atmosphere of Palestine. In the first days of my stay I had the realization that everything that we see on the news is only a very small portion of the reality in this beautiful country and does not reflect well on the actual situation. Of course the Palestinian people are facing many challenges all linked to the Israeli occupation, and it is a topic being discussed almost every day, but what is way more outstanding to me is the hope and the continuous work towards a better life of the Palestinian people. There were many situations so far when I had the feeling of being helpless and just feeling too small to be able to actually implement change, but every time one of my Palestinian colleagues – which I now call friends – lifted me up and reminded me that it is important to keep on going and that we ARE able to make a change. There is a sentence that really stuck with me throughout this whole journey and describes the atmosphere of our wetskills team perfectly, which is: faith and action are our strongest weapons. This reflects on the attitude of the Palestinian people in general who continue to have faith although this whole situation might seem hopeless and they continue to work and take action with the little resources and possibilities they have because giving up is not an option. This is a lesson that made me put our ,,European problems’’ into perspective and will stick with me throughout my entire life. I am looking forward to educating my friends and family in Europe about this way of thinking and about the beautiful culture which I am privileged to experience here.
On our 5th day of the program, our ‘’hostel team’’ ( the people staying at our beautiful hostel in Ramallah), had a fun carpool karaoke session as usual and arrived just in time at Shareks office to continue working on the project. In the morning we had a really helpful feedback moment where we introduced our case and solutions to the organizers (Inge , Annelise and Tasneem) who gave us useful tips and also an opportunity to ask questions. After that two guys from the Bank of Palestine came to visit us and took some videos and pictures for their website. After a very big lunch ( as usual ) we had an online presentation about the canvas business model tying in with the topic of the previous day. Although the presentation was quite dry we learned a lot about business models and how to connect it to our cases as well as useful tips if we ever want to open a falafel shop.
In the evening some of us went out to try the best shisha place in Ramallah for the first time which was a lot of fun and gave us more insight on how the local people like to spend their evening.