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Zajel, An-Najah University
submitted by Arab Educational Institute

Zajel is the Arabic word for a carrier pigeon: a symbol of communication and a symbol of peace. The Zajel Program offers a peaceful way by which Palestinian youth can be part of their cause. We seek to answer the misunderstanding and unawareness of people in the West, by representing Palestinian youths in a positive way and by acting as ambassadors for the Palestinian cause.

The Zajel Youth Exchange Program came as the result of a dream. The dream was to develop an exchange program that would assemble youth from diverse backgrounds to interact with Palestinians, and to learn about Palestinian society and political reality.

The Zajel program is based at An-Najah National University in Nablus. Most of the students of our university are from northern cities in the West Bank: Jenin, Qalqilia, Tulkarem and Nablus, amongst others. These cities suffer badly from the Israeli military occupation – movement from one city to the other is made difficult by Military checkpoints and the cities themselves are plagued by Israeli military incursions.

The intention is to provide foreign youth and An-Najah National University students, a venue to create a type of symbiotic relationship that will surpass what other exchange programs have offered.

These conditions make it very hard for young people to get involved in community service programs or serious political and social activities. They also rarely get a chance to meet with people from outside Palestine. This prevents them from expressing their opinions, how they feel or to make friends in other cities and across borders. In many ways the students have been cut off from the rest of the world.

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