My name is Jeremy Graf Evans, and I was born in East Jerusalem. That’s a pretty cool thing to be able to say, so props to my parents for giving me such a unique opening statement. It serves a fantastic purpose in games like “Two Truths and Lie” or when asked for a “little known fact about you” when playing name games. However, it means a lot more than that. It means a deep affinity for the area and everything that is going on there. As physically distant as I am from it, I declare it part of my identity. I spent barely any more than a year there, and yet it has led me to feel a certain loyalty to it, particularly to the Palestinian side due to the fact that it is where my family was based. It hasn’t been very difficult to keep it present in my life, or in my mind as we all often see the region in the news. I have taken the Hiroshima to 9/11 Advanced class at Westtown, where one of the main capstone projects of the Winter Term attempt to formulate a peace plan between the Israelis and the Palestinians as well as the Arab nations nearby, a difficult task to say the least. If it were easy, it would have been done. In other walks of life I have enjoyed remaining connected through our 2009 Christmas family trip returning to visit family friends as well as being able to meet the annual sophomore who comes to Westtown from Ramallah Friends School. Ramallah Friends (RFS) is Westtown’s Quaker Sister school in the West Bank and is also where my mother taught in their years living there, before I was born (AKA The better years, although they wouldn’t admit it). RFS is where we will be matched with host families in the second half of our trip.
Really, amidst all of this rambling that I can go about forever, I’m going to attempt to keep this concise in saying that this trip is going to be fantastic. I am ecstatic to be able to share this part of my identity with so many of my great classmates, as well as learn everything that I do not know about the area, while enjoying the irresistible food. When I am too tired to put together my thoughts about the politics, I would not be surprised if I take a little break to blog about the food. In short, it is my favorite. I hope I will be able to harness my energy to be focused on the vitals, and yet it is so hard to know how to prioritize what to focus on, as it is a 24/7 whirlwind of things to be present for.
I hope I can use this blog to process my thoughts, to inform others, and to have something to look back at and reflect upon. Tomorrow begins the 2 week journey back to my Birthplace, and I could not be more excited to see what I come back with.