Saturday, 27 January 2018


Great to meet with the leaders of all three country teams in London! It's been an extremely useful time and we are now ready for the next youth exchange in Palestine!

These photos were from a special event  - as we have fewer from the workshops themselves.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Meeting in London

So nice to see these good people again... Not everyone could come which was a pity, but the last day we were due to meet there was sudden snow so we had to call it off. .. Today we remembered the visit to France and what had been good about it, and people thought about the visit to Palestine and what they hoped from it, and we got planning again for preparation and fundraising for the visit. 'Palestime' was going to be one day in December, but now it will be three days in February - lots of good ideas and we'll make it work this time!

This picture was posted with a message from the young people here to our friends we met in France and hope to see soon in Palestine: we remember good times together and are looking forward to seeing you soon!!!!

Monday, 23 October 2017

An informative and fun trip

My report about the trip to France:
the trip to France was very informative and fun , we went on bases of human rights to talk about discrimination , and how we Palestinians are suffering from the Israelis , and to share some stories in addition of hearing from others (french and British people) about what they suffer , discrimination wise , as for what i learned , i gained different knowledge regarding discrimination as a concept , i never thought France would be other than a place where everyone is living the dream and enjoying their life , it turned out that people over their do have problems , i felt connected to them , i gained knowledge regarding the geography of France which was very interesting for me , people were very nice and friendly i believe we gained a life time relationship with our french and British friends , i am looking forward for other exchanges and opportunities.

We benefited from this cultural exchange. .

تقرير عن زيارة فرنساا
كانت زيارة فرنسا جزء من مشروع معا الذي يضم  تبادلات بين فرنسا و فلسطين و بريطانيا و كانت زيارة فرنسا احدى تبادلات هذا المشروع و الذي كان هدفها او موضوعها الاساسي العنصرية بحيث اننا زرنا متحف خاص بالعنصرية (musée de l'homme paris) و تعرفنا فيه على كتير من اشكال للعنصرية في انحاء العالم مثل الاحداث الي كانت في جنوب افريقيا و كمان قمنا بسؤال العديد من الاشخاص غير فرنسين الاصل مثل جزائرين و تونسين مصرين عن اذا كان هناك عنصرية بفرنسا او تعرضوا  للعنصرية و كانت هناك اجوبة مختلفة و بنفس الوقت سألنا فرنسين الاصل اذا بشوفوا ان فرنسا من الدول التي تمارس العنصرية و ايضا في هذه الزيارة قمنا بتعريف الناس على فلسطين و على ماذا يحدث في فلسطين و عن معاناة الفلسطيني بشكل خاص بحيث ان فلسطين من اكتررالدول التي  تعاني من العنصرية و ايضا على صعيدي  الشخصي تعلمت من زيارة فرنسا اولا  التعرف على ثقافات   و ثانيا  تطوير من لغتي الانجليزية  و تعلم اللغة  الفرنسية و ثالثا تطوير من مهارات  التكلم و الاختلاط مع الناس و خاصة من ثقافة و لغة مختلفة و كمان زرنا العديد من الاماكن المعروفة بفرنسا مثل برج ايفل و الذي يعد من اهم الاماكن الاثرية في العالم و متحف LOUVER و الذي يعد من اهم المتحاف بالعالم و يحتوي على لوحة الموناليزا و يوجد بالمتحف جزء خاص للعرب و المسلمين و ايضا زرنا  قوس النصر انا برائي  ان هذه زيارة كانت جدا مفيدة على الصعيد الشخصي بحيث انها اعطتني الفرصة بالتعامل مع شباب من ثقافات و لغات مختلفة   في النهاية بوصي بزيادة من هذه التبادلات او المشاريع لانها تفتح  للشباب الفرص في تطوير من مهارات الاتصال و التواصل و التعرف على ثقافات مختلفة و التواصل معهم

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Busy busy busy learning

The exchange continued busier and busier and we didn't manage to keep up the regular blogging - We will try and catch up now it was finished.

So much learning happened during this exchange. These are some of the things that the young people said they had learned in their evaluation at the end...

I learned new languages like English and French

We learned how to interact with people who speak different languages

I was shocked to see a video of the treatment of Red Cross workers by soldiers in conflict (this referred to a presentation by Ali from his voluntary work in Palestine)

The culture of Palestine

I learned about Kashmir from the presentations we did for each other (this was probably from Iram)

Discrimination is world wide

It turned out hearing things is different than seeing them

Those people are so friendly

I learned about the situation of the Al Aqsa Mosque (this was from presentations and discussion)

I learned that the situation in France is worse than I thought

I learned about the prejudices that people face in different areas of the world

I learned about
- French infrastructure
- challenges people face in Palestine
- French attitudes to Muslims

I learned a lot about discrimination and its consequences across the world, eg in Paris, Bangladesh, Kashmir, Morocco

Don't leave your country, you won't find yourself

Discrimination in France

The Palestinian experience and stories

New information about discrimination

(these were the ones I have written in English but there were others to add on)

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Day 5 Interviews

Today's assignment was to get the group together to devise interview questions for local residents of Aubervilliers. The participants planned to enter into the center of the town and ask people questions about discrimination and their experience of living in Paris. There was very mixed feedback from the group about the kind of responses they were met with. Some participants said that people were very friendly, some were not and quite a lot of people were too scared to answer any questions out of fear that they were from the government or immigration officials. In this area, there were no French people willing to answer questions so they were only able to conduct interviews with people from Algeria, Tunisia, Syria, Morocco and Mali. Apart from one teacher, everyone they met were either unemployed or had low level jobs (e.g workers in shops or cafes).   The teacher that Mounir met with was a Syrian women who wears a hijab. She said that the school that she works at always puts her last to speak in meetings, and if they overrun she gets cut and isn't allowed to speak. The school that her children attend is a government funded school and she explained how her children never get invited on the school trips. When the school have to correspond with the family, they request the father as they don’t have a problem with the family being foreign but their issue is with her wearing a hijab.  Hassan met with a 40 year old man from Mali, Africa who is unemployed, homeless and has been in Paris for three years. Back in Mali he has a wife and children and he left to France for work, so that he could return with money and give his family a better life. Although France had not been the land of opportunities and dreams that he had perceived it to be in Africa. When asked about whether he thinks discrimination exists in Paris he replied ‘definitely’ and when pushed for an example he said there were too many to chose from. He was saying to Hassan that in Mali he was a well respected, educated man and at least he had a place to sleep but in France he doesn’t get help from anybody. Now he is too ashamed to go home; to have to face his family after he promised them a better life and admit its been three years and still he is unemployed and homeless. He’s seen many African men die in the winter on the streets of Paris and he fears this winter he will be next. When asked about refugees in Paris he replied that there was no fair treatment for anyone seeking asylum here. He faces a lot of racism daily from French people. Hassan went on to ask about whether or not Muslims in particular face any sort of discrimination. The man’s response was that since the recent terror attacks there has been a lot of Islamophobia amongst French people but for him, he knows only good Muslims and cannot believe the discrimination that he sees. Although he did note that the stigma around wearing a hijab is vanishing in his opinion, in the sense that the laws surrounding hijab wearing are diminishing and it is becoming more common to see women wearing them. His main goal now is just to somehow get some money to buy a ticket back to Mali and be with his family again.  Anas spoke to a couple from Algeria, who arrived in France six years ago. The woman was a housewife who wears a hijab. She explained to Anas how she thinks racism exists but it doesn’t affect her daily life and this is mainly down to how the different cultures in Paris don’t tend to mix. She spends most of her time in Arab communities and therefore doesn’t experience the same discrimination daily, as when she travels to the center of Paris. They both went on to speak about how they think that religious groups (mainly Muslims) are targeted more than ethnic groups in terms of discrimination. Their experience of France has been generally very anti-religion, so anyone who expresses their religion openly (for example, wearing a hijab) is
ostracised from society. The woman gave an example that she often finds when she travels to and from the center with her daughter in a push chair. No one ever offers to help her get on and off buses, but she always sees women who aren’t in hijabs receiving help. "It creates an atmosphere that becomes very US and THEM,” she went on, “but it doesn’t affect me too much. I am comfortable with my religious identity and my faith keeps me strong.” She believes that French people in general hate Muslims, and white people will never know what it’s like to be discriminated against as a Muslim. That is why she stays in her community and tries not to mix with any French communities.  Out of all of the interviews that were conducted, 16 out of 20 people were unemployed and/or homeless, 3 worked in shops or cafes and one woman was a teacher. The poverty and quality in Aubervilliers is at a very dangerous point. It’s astonishing to believe that Aubervilliers is just half an hour from the Eiffel Tower. The wealth and opportunity distribution in Paris is completely unjust and it’s been very hard to talk to people who came to Paris in order to have a better life than the one in their home country and instead were met with sleeping on the streets and racism.  The man that Jameela spoke to was an Algerian man who identified as Muslim. He didn’t have a lot to say apparently, apart from that he feels like racism is increasing in this country and he feels specifically targeted because of his religion. When Jameela asked what he thought the solution to discrimination was he said 'we must view people primarily as human beings. Not define them by race or religion or background but first see everyone as a human being

Day 4 -Palestinians in Paris

We were all very excited today as we travelled on the metro to the center of Paris, as we were on our way to meet with the Palestinian Embassy. We sat with (enter name?!) who is the Palestinian ambassador and he spoke to us about his reasons for coming to France, the struggle facing Palestinians and what we can all be doing as young people to fight for a fairer world. He was passionate and enthusiastic with the notion that we have not only a responsibility to share our messages of change with the world, but also that we are the ones with the power to make real change in society. As other members of the embassy came in to give us Arabic coffee, (as anyone who has been to Palestine will know, it is impossible to enter into somebodies home or office without being welcomed with the delicious, cardamom caffeine hit!) he shared methods on how to communicate your struggle with others, and fix problems wholeheartedly. After a chance to ask questions and take photos, we left the embassy and travelled along the metro to Saint-Michel.  After arriving at Notre Dame and witnessing the famous friendly pigeons perch all over Abed we queued up to enter into the historical Church. I explained to anyone who wasn’t familiar with Notre Dame to be silent and respectful as we walked around the building, as it may just be a church to us, but it is an incredibly sacred, holy place for many people inside. Regardless of your particular faith, there is something very beautiful about visiting places that hold such significance to other members of society. It gives you the opportunity to see sights of importance and in a small way, allows you to share in their experiences by seeing spaces that make up a great portion of their lives. It was a similar feeling to walking around inside Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. Although I myself, am neither Muslim nor Christian, I am so appreciative of the opportunity to be invited into these exceptionally sacred buildings and feel the strength of the communities inside.

Date 6, More investigations

Questionnaire In Opposing Part Of Paris

Today we thought it would be a good idea to conduct the same interviews but in a predominantly white part of Paris, to see the difference of opinion amongst different groups. The outcome was very interesting! The group was met with indifference to the problems in Paris, denial about any discrimination existing and in some cases blatant Islamophobia! 

Ameera met an 8 year old boy from Bosnia who approached her begging for money. Assuming he was Arab, she began speaking to him in Arabic but he quickly explained to her his parents were Bosnian but he was born in France. She asked why he wasn’t at school and he said that when his parents came to France they were refugees and were homeless, so he was born on the streets and never received any official paperwork from the government confirming he can attend school (or that he even exists!). She then asked him if he attended  nursery and he said ‘what is nursery?’. She asked if he knew about Palestine and he said ‘What is Palestine?’ As Ameera asked more and more questions the boy began to get suspicious and ran across the river to his family who were also begging for money.  Ameera then attempted to ask other people to answer questions but had no luck in talking to anyone else. 

Ali attempted to speak to many French people but he said no one had any interest in talking to him. Finally he managed to meet a 45 year old man from Tunisia who works in a local supermarket and happened to be on his lunch break. When asked if he thought there was discrimination in France he said yes, due to the fact that there is a lot of different cultures living here. He said outside of this country, France is presented as a land of opportunities and dreams to do and be whatever you want. As a result many people come and become faced with a very different reality. He thinks it's good that France is very welcoming to refugees, because they are in danger in their own countries so as a privileged country France has a right to help these people. But the problem he sees is that France welcomes people in, and then doesn’t offer them any support when they get here.  He explained to Ali how he wanted to change the idea that France is full of opportunity because it's not fair for people to turn up here and become instantly homeless and hungry. He says it's no wonder that the French people think all foreigners are unemployed and live off the government when there is literally no one employing them! His goal was to leave France and move to London to pursue a better life, as he believes life in London is better.

Ali reflected on his conversation with the man by saying to the rest of the group he found it interesting how the man was so vocal about how everyone wrongly believed France was so amazing and yet he believes the same about London. 'Everyone needs to dream’, he concluded. 

Anas spoke to a man whose father was Tunisian and mother was Italian.  He said he believed he was in a great position because if Arabs ask where he is from he says Tunisia and when French people ask he says Italy so he is immediately accepted by two different groups of people. He began to tell Anas about the different kinds of discrimination he sees especially towards African and Arab communities and how he becomes almost immune to it all by being mixed race. He said he doesn’t think discrimination is increasing or decreasing. 

Afnan’s experience in Paris was incredibly unpleasant today. She managed to find a white, French woman who was happy to answer questions. When asked if there was any discrimination in France the woman said simply no, never. She believes it is a great country, with no racism where everyone is treated equally. When Afnan got to the questions regarding Muslims, the woman became very shocked. ‘I was talking about black people!’ she exclaimed. She tried to explain to Afnan how black and white people are treated equally but not Muslims because ‘they are all terrorists’. Afnan, managing to remain calm and relaxed
replied to the woman by saying ‘and what about me? Am I a terrorist?’. Obviously taken aback by where the conversation had gone, the woman went on to her explain her theory of categorising Muslims. She said how all Muslims were terrorists because ISIS are all muslims and they are all terrorists, all muslims that wear black are definitely terrorists, but Afnan was okay because she was wearing colours. Logistically her argument was quite a mess, before you even get to the moral implications of her beliefs but Afnan handled the conversation with total professionalism and didn’t let the woman’s views phase her.

Day 3, stories

Today we met with the French organisation and some of their participants to give presentations about life in our own countries. We began with Afnan and Abed explaining the situation in Palestine, to anybody who might not be aware of the political context. Afterwards, we went round in circle and each told the group a story about a very important part of our lives. This gave us a space to hear, on really personal levels the kind of hardship and discrimination that is felt in everyday life.  The first story from one of the Palestinians centered around one massive issue in Palestine; having either a blue or a green I.D. In 2002, after the separation wall was built, if you born in Jerusalem you were given a blue I.D and if you were born in the West Bank you were issued a green I.D. These I.Ds determine where in Palestine you permitted to travel to. One of the members of a group has a green I.D, but their partner and children have blue I.Ds. This means that in order for them to live together and be together as a family, they must rent a house in both the West Bank and Jerusalem, pay taxes on this house and spend multiple nights a week apart, just so the Israeli government doesn’t find out they live together in the West Bank. Learning about this kind of life where as a human being you can be issued a certain colour I.D, as if by being born you have already done something wrong, really shocked some of the French and British members of the group who were unaware of the level of occupation in Palestine.  Another story that was shared from the Palestinian side, was about the Israeli army arresting the older brother of one of the participants. They told us how it was the middle of the night and 20 Israeli solders burst through their front door, screaming and shouting as loudly as possible. As their father hurried their mother and sisters in to one room and went to speak to the solders, this participant managed to slip out and make a run for it. When they returned home their brother had been arrested. The crime? A post on facebook mentioning Israel. 15 months in an Israeli prison for a 21 year old boy, all because he wrote something on facebook. It was during this story that I had to really fight to hold back tears. Hearing them speak about the fear that they felt when the army came, the pain and anxiety of the safety of their family and being just 18 years old- it showed me just how resilient and brave they are, like so many of the Palestinian people.  Being able to communicate our stories to each other in this way, was an amazing way to hear personal accounts of each others lives but it really bonded the participants from both France, Palestine and the UK.

Monday, 9 October 2017

معا في فرنسا

أميرة عريقات

في تاريخ 7/10 كان المخطط ان نذهب الى برج ايفل فقمنا للتوجه الى محطه القطار وقمنا بشراء التذاكر وركبنا ولم ياخذ وقتنا طويلا ومشينا لمسافه متوسطه ووصلنا الى منطقه برج ايفل وكان معنا في ذلك اليوم اعضاء موسسة الجهة والجهة الاخرى وقاموا بتعريفنا على المنطقة وكانت المناطق تتطور تدريجيا كلما تقدمنا اكثر وذهبنا الى معرض( musem de l'homme ) وراينا العديد من الصور والفيديوهات البوسترات التي تتحدث عن العنصرية بشكل عام وممارساتها بالعالم وعن هتلر واسلوبه في التعذيب ولكن لم تكن الصورة واضحة بشكل كبير ولم يتحدث عن القضية الفلسطينة بالرغم من انها اكبر شكل من اشكال العنصريه عن هدف المعرض والتقطنا بعض الصور هناك ثم قمنا بالمشي من تحت البرج وركبنا بالسفينة الموجودة في نهر السين واخذنا جولة في كل باريس وشاهدنا العديد من المناظر الجميلة وبعدها كنا قد اكملنا المشي الى شارع الشانزيليزي والشارع كان من اكثر الاماكن رقي وغلاء للثمن وشعرت بمدى السوء والفقر الذي يعيش فيه الناس في الدائرة الاولى المقيمين فيها نحن الان والنظرة لهم من قبل هذه المناطق وكنا بعد ذلك قد مشينا الى محطة القطار للعودة الى مكان اقامتنا في الاوتيل وقد كان يوم متعب ولكن من اجمل الايام حيث كان خروجنا من الساعة العاشرة صباحاالى الساعة الحادية عشرة مساء

افنان عباسي

·         France – Paris
·         Afnan Abbasi – Palestine – Jerusalem

   This is an experience of a lifetime , I have been learning a lot for the past 4 days , it has been a very informative period , I enjoyed my time and I am waiting for the upcoming days , we went to a museum that discussed discrimination in the mankind , it was very connected to our issue in Palestine ,for the mere fact that I was exploring different violations , Germans , Africans , and different tribes ,  for me the trip to the museum was very informative on the personal level I found it to be one of the highlights in the trip in general .