Westtown, February 28th, 2013

I am sitting in my empty, spotless dorm room as I type this – I will leave Westtown in about half an hour, and my flight to Israel/Palestine departs in a little bit more than 24 hours. The countdown gadget on my computer has finally reached zero, and I could not be happier about it. Senior Project is so close, I can almost feel it in the air!

“Marhaba” means “welcome” in Arabic, a phrase that I have heard so many times when I was in Abu Dhabi last December on a college visit trip. I love Arabic hospitality – they are so warm, welcoming, and always happy to give interested people a slice of their world. That is partly why I am very much looking forward to being in Israel/Palestine this time. But all that aside, welcome to my thrilling journey as I find my way to one of the oldest, holiest, and most complicated lands in the world.

A little bit about me (this should have been the first thing I write, but I get caught up in the details) – my name is Thinh and I was born and raised in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. I came to Westtown in my sophomore year, and have been enjoying it since then. Next fall, I will be joining a group of 150 students from all over the world at New York University in Abu Dhabi, UAE, where I will complete my four undergraduate years and travel the world.

So it goes without saying that I love this part of the world – the language, the culture, and as I have said before, the hospitality. Yet it’s not why I decided to go to Israel/Palestine for my Senior Project. The main reason comes from my History class, Hiroshima to 9/11. In Hiroshima to 9/11, we have spent the whole winter term “dissecting” the Israel/Palestine conflict, pulling apart the intricate history, discussing the current situations, and trying to look at the complete picture from both sides’ points of view. My mind was blown at how complicated it all is; and I struggled with the conflict even more when I was writing the Peace Proposal, an outline of my own solutions to the multiple issues that contribute to the situation. I found myself wanting to see how the conflict affects people in their everyday lives, and to hear from people with different backgrounds about their perspectives.

So I made my decision, and I will be on my way soon. I hope to talk to many locals from both the Israeli and Palestinian sides there about how they see the conflict, how it affects them, and what they want to see in the future. I am also very excited to visit Ramallah Friends’ School, Westtown’s sister school in the city of Ramallah, and stay with a local family there so that I myself could see what I have read in my textbooks and in many news sources.

So that’s it for now. I can’t wait to update you with Israel/Palestine news soon!

Until then,

One thought on “Marhaba!

  1. Karen Gallagher

    I can’t wait to follow your journey. You are on your way to first-hand experience that no collection of readings can replicate. Peace be with you on your travels.

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