19 year old second year Business Administration student of An Najah National University.
Times are hard – this is the only thing I can say about the current situation in Palestine.
For me, being a student at An Najah University is a privilege. It is a rich academic and social experience. An Najah is the largest of the 11 Palestinian universities. In this academic year, it covers the needs of over 16,000 students from all over the West Bank.
But there exists this awkward little fact. An Najah is located in the West Bank city of Nablus which is completely surrounded by Israeli occupation forces. Every road leading out of Nablus is controlled by Israeli soldiers – some call it a siege. This means the movement of students, including myself, is interrupted, delayed and sometimes completely prevented.
There are about 10,000 students who travel into Nablus everyday from nearby towns and villages, and they have to show their ID, empty their bags, prove who they are looking down the barrel of a gun – just to go to classes. This is not an international border – it is the occupied West Bank.
For me, I live just 7km from Nablus. Or at least I used to. Before the circle of checkpoints closed in, I could reach Nablus in 10 minutes taking the direct road over the hill. This road has been closed by the Israeli occupation force, and now my journey takes me on a big detour of 25km. It now takes 45 minutes on a good day, but usually it takes at least two hours. It used to cost 3 shekels, now it costs 12 shekels.
Now – I was given the honour to speak on behalf of my fellow students, so it is my duty to speak their thoughts. I know for a fact that the two biggest problems we share are -
Transport difficulties – if we could, we would all live in Nablus to avoid the checkpoints. But we can’t. There aren’t dormitories, and anyway, we couldn’t afford it.
Which brings me to the second problem, the occupation generally and the Nablus blockade specifically is making us poorer and poorer. It is getting harder for our families to support us through university.
This is our situation. We don’t want to be pitied, we just want the outside world to know about our situation, to understand our side of the story, to see what it is like. Twinning with your university will bring us closer to your experience – it will show us even more the freedom we lack, but it will also bring you closer to our experience.
I look forward to our future conversations and comparisons.