Tara B.*: The seminar was one of the greatest experiences for me – I’m not exaggerating – the seminar was very important for me. I was discussing it with my coordinator the other day: I think before the seminar, I was really selfish because I wanted to live in freedom and peace like anyone else in this world but I didn’t do much … for it …because I thought I just want to live in peace but I can’t do anything for it. But the seminar gave me a new vision and right now I want to make a change. I don’t care if I will spend my whole life trying to make this change, I want to do it. I want to live in peace but I also want to feel like I’m actively doing something … in order to achieve it. This seminar was eye-opening for me because I have learnt so much and experienced so many emotions on a personal level and on a professional level, regarding the conflict, regarding everything, really. So this is a one-of-a-kind experience for me. I’ve never met any Israelis before because I live in Ramallah and I never had direct contact with them except for at the checkpoints – and that is because I have to and it’s not really, well, … so this is the first time I have met Israelis.
I was scared before I came here. You know, people are kind of judgemental in my country. Before I came here, a few of my friends and co-workers were trying to convince me that a seminar like this is to be considered normalization and that I shouldn’t do this, I shouldn’t talk to them [the Israelis] and that a dialogue seminar is not a way of resistance. But I wanted to try; I have a different perspective from theirs’ on this and I realized that yes, this in fact, is the right resistance. Resistance for me is about understanding each other and trying find solution that works for the both of us because we both want to live in peace. And I’m pretty sure that a lot of people want the same things and its us who can do this.
L.K.: Wow, that’s a very strong thought. Resistance is often considered to be violent and aggressive to be “radical”. But radical can be something different as well and that’s what you just explained. It’s radical resistance but on another level.
T.B.: And also, I believe I used to avoid the conflict and talking about the conflict. I avoided any conflict in general and I always hated conflicts between people. But right now, I don’t mind talking about the conflict and sharing my opinion even though someone disagrees with me … . It’s my opinion and I have the right to share it in front of anyone, no matter what.
L.K.: So what made you come to the seminar if you used to avoid the conflict?
T.B.*: Me being a part of this conflict makes it really hard to avoid it. I felt like I was a bit “useless” in a way because I wasn’t doing anything about it. Other people are stronger than me and they are actively working for change and I’m here not knowing what to do with my life. And I always believed that I want to do something with women empowerment and this seminar is about us as women making the change. And I believe that we can make the change because women are the change. So me coming to the seminar connects both my wish to become active for change and doing that together with other women – and I feel closer to what I’m heading for in my life now. Because I always knew I want to do something related to women empowerment and solving the conflict. …
L.K.: Really interesting and I think you mentioned today in the seminar session that you would consider yourself a shy person and now your big goal is to speak about politics and reach out and be more confident.
T.B.*: Well, I’m still a shy person but I don’t want to let my personal fears affect my goal because I live to make a change and I really want to do this even if this means that I have to leave my comfort zone and to do things my friends won’t agree on.
L.K.: The seminar is almost over now – are you scared to go back home?
T.B.*: Scared, no. Or let’s say I’m not scared of people but I’m scared because it’s over soon and the question is – what now? What am I supposed to do? So it’s pretty hard for me because I have been through a lot in the seminar and now I have to go back without knowing exactly what to do. So I was thinking about it in the last two days, like, ok, now I know what I want but what should I do to do what I want?
I think personally, I want to apply for a master’s degree and this is my first step. But my real goal is in the humanitarian and women empowerment field. I want to make a change and from which not only certain organizations which already have a lot of money profit. I want to participate more in seminars like this one and try to bring together people from both sides to talk to each other. I also have an advice for the next participants: Prepare your knowledge before the seminar; that way, you are better equipped to engage with all this.