I have lived in this region before, but moved back to America for about two years. In that time, I hadn’t returned, but coming to TYO I felt like I was returning to a second home. Though I have visited Nablus and lived in the region before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Two years is just long enough for everything and nothing to change at the same time.
Upon arrival, I was greeted by the overwhelming familiarity of Palestinian hospitality. Everyone was excited to meet the ajnabi (foreigner), welcoming me to Palestine and making sure I had everything I needed. The kids I am to teach English to flash me broad smiles and big, curious eyes. They speak whatever English they know to make me feel welcomed in their classrooms. However, I also notice some changes in the community. American food chains had now found their way into the traditional city with not one, but two KFCs. Buildings and scenery had changed over the past two years. Some changes noting positive progress, while some of the growth I had hoped to see, never materialized.
Feelings of happiness quickly shared space with those of confusion and sadness. I wrestled to process everything I was feeling. At this time, we took a trip into the old city of Nablus and went to eat some of the famous Nabulsi knafeh. When I sat down and took a bite of that knafeh, I was flooded with happiness (probably due to the large amount of sugar in the knafeh) and memories of the last time I ate Nabulsi knafeh. At that point, I realized this is Nablus. It is a beautiful, living city. Some things change when you do not want them to, while others remain stagnant when you want them to progress forward. Frustration is inevitable, but so is joy, because two things will always remain the same in Nablus: the delicious knafeh, sure to bring a smile to anyone who eats it, and the warmth of its people.
Thank you to the knafeh and all of the wonderful people at TYO for welcoming me back to Nablus and Palestine.
– Samantha, Spring 2017 Intern