Although summer in Palestine is very hot, we consider it a special time of year. Various local produce are ready for harvesting, starting early on with lemons and almonds, going through apricots and fakous (a vegetable in the cucumber family) among others, and culminating with the legendary olive harvest after that, around September. The summer is also the time when we receive the most international guests and visitors of any time during the year.
Wi’am values its relationship with international visitors and we consider our “Citizen Diplomacy and Advocacy” program to be one of the most important facets of our work. In this program we host international visitors in various capacities depending on the desires of the group. Recent services we provided ranged from informal tours of the Aida refugee camp near Wi’am to a banquet with guests such as the Mayor of Bethlehem to tours of villages near Bethlehem where visitors can see firsthand the kind of nonviolent direct action we support. Our goal is simply to share with visitors the Palestinian narrative, ensuring that they have accurate knowledge of life here through the eyes of local citizens rather than through the lens of the international media. We hope that our guests will be moved to share our stories with their friends, family, and colleagues in their home countries.
Last week, Wi’am hosted a banquet celebrating international visitors from California on a pilgrimage with our dear friend Rizek Abu Shaar. In this group of international visitors was our oldest international guest to date, a 92 year old woman from California named Arlene Warhurst. We can only hope that we are all as vibrant as her at such an age!
While some events, like this banquet, are planned in advance, others are spontaneous. Often groups drop by the center throughout the day, and a large portion are directed here by the Ministry of Tourism in Bethlehem or the Bethlehem Peace Center staff, as we are known for providing tours, hospitality, and information about our conflict resolution work. We also provide services to help groups plan their trips to the West Bank, as we have contacts to arrange homestays and guest houses in various villages and towns around the West Bank.
If you are in the mood to learn about a different way of life, dreams and hopes, take one of our tours in Bethlehem, Jericho, Ramallah, Nablus, or anywhere else in the West Bank, please contact wi’am ASAP to get more information.
You can call us at +972(0)22777333 or you can email our Citizen Diplomacy Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org