Palestinian Young Leaders met at Al Tariq’s Resource Center in al-Ram for the first Palestinian national meeting of 2011. These meetings give Young Leaders the chance to reflect on their experience in the Summer Academy, the Bi-National Meeting with Israelis, and discuss internal issues in Palestinian society.
The self-organized meeting started with a discussion led by Adel Hroub, a Young Leader and student at Abu Dis. He spoke to the group about the field of social sciences and what it means to be a social scientist. This provoked discussion about many different aspects of Palestinian society and the problems that young people see in the society today. The major topics discussed were:
Education: The Palestinian education system is based on memorization and students are not encouraged to think critically or creatively. As a result, many students are bored in school and associate learning with regurgitation instead of thinking. The participants discussed the new Creative Writing Program that Al Tariq is starting and expressed their excitement for an opportunity to learn how to express themselves and to participate in creative writing workshops.
Child Smoking: Many children smoke cigarettes in Palestine. While this trend is changing, it is still a big problem and one of the Young Leaders talked about his relative who organized a demonstration at a local school to raise awareness about the problem and to make smoking taboo for kids. He spoke to the group about how he organized the event and his inspiration to do something about this important health and education issue, inspiring others to take action.
Gossip and Honor: A big problem in Palestinian society is gossip. What people say is regarded as important as what someone has done. This can cause many problems for women in particular because their reputation often determines what kind of marriage partner they will find and how their social and economic status will be. For example, if there is a rumor that a woman was alone with a man — something that is considered culturally unacceptable — rumors can spread that she is not honorable and she and her family may be ostracized.
Lack of Extra Curricular Activities: Participants discussed the lack of activities for children and young people outside of school. This free time creates many developmental problems and is a wasted opportunity to improve the society and themselves. The group started to discuss different possible extra-curricular activities that they could lead and how they could engage children in their work.
Future Plans: One of the activities that the participants wanted to do is to go and visit some of the different social projects in Palestine. Now, they are working to plan trips to the Jenin Freedom Theater, the Old City in Hebron, the Tent of Nations and several villages that are participating in the non-violent, or popular struggle.
Hani Abdou, one of Al Tariq’s Palestinian Young Leaders, contributed to this report.