Under the sponsorship of Friends United Meeting, an international Quaker organization that owns and operates Friends schools in Ramallah, Palestine, Friends Center Director Max Carter and his wife Jane led a group of eight on a work/study experience in Israel and Palestine June 6-22.
Included in the group were Senior Director for Alumni Relations Karrie Manson '82; Visiting Professor of Peace & Conflict Studies Jeremy Rinker; alumna Liz Nicholson '12; and current students Starshima Haynes '16, Chloe Williams '17 and Abe Kenmore '17.
In addition to five days of volunteer work painting, gardening and cleaning at the Friends schools and Quaker meetinghouse in Ramallah, the group toured religious and historical sites in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Galilee, Nazareth, the Jordan Valley and villages around the West Bank, including Bil'in, featured in the documentary Five Broken Cameras.
A significant part of the trip was meeting with Israelis and Palestinians to hear the various narratives of the situation. This included Jewish settlers, Israeli staff of the American Friends Service Committee, Israel Defense Forces soldiers, kibbutzniks, members of the Israeli peace community of Wahat al-Salam/Neve Shalom, Israeli Arabs, a chief negotiator for the Palestinians in the recent U.S.-brokered peace talks, a founder of the boycott/divestment/sanctions movement, the imam of the al-Ayn mosque, the clerk of the Ramallah Friends Meeting, and a Palestinian entrepreneur and blogger.
A highlight was renewing acquaintances with Guilford friends and alumni in Palestine: Samer Atiany '06, Rasha Ali '09, Yacoub Sa'ad '08, Deena Zaru '11, Dima Hanania '12, Haneen Amra '14, the parents of Dana Hamdan '11, Maisa Zeedani '07, and Michael Khayat '14. The group also enjoyed meals in the homes of current students Nour Salhoub '17 and Walid Mosarsa'a '16 as well as newly enrolled students Tamara Malouf '18 and Yazan Khalaf '18.
During the group's time in Ramallah, faculty members Jonathan Malino and Karen Spira (with husband Jason) visited in Ramallah while in Jerusalem for a philosophy conference and a family Bar Mitzvah.
An especially poignant part of the trip was spending the last three nights of the experience in Ramallah during Israel's Operation Brother's Keeper, a response to the disappearance of three Israeli teens in the West Bank. Hours before attending worship in the Friends Meeting on June 22, the group heard the intense fighting that occurred just a block from the meetinghouse and two blocks from its guest quarters at the Friends schools.