The first of several (many) blog posts to answer this question. Why am I going to Gaza?
Everyone wants to know — my family, my friends, my professional colleagues, my neighbors, and now the Egyptian security officer reviewing my Visa application.
It’s a fair question. There are many answers.
I wrote in my Visa application that I want to teach engineers in Gaza about climate change. I’ve designed a syllabus for a new class entitled “Building a Resilient Community in the Age of Climate Change and Conflict”.
It’s pretty darn presumptuous of me to think that I might teach engineers and engineering students in Gaza anything. Even though much of my professional research and writing has been focused on climate change, and I have taught the subject at the university level in the US, I have absolutely zilch experience living and teaching under occupation.
Engineers in Gaza are probably focused on maintaining minimum levels of service — electricity, water, wastewater and garbage disposal, basic infrastructure — just to keep life bearable for the 1.7 million people living in Gaza. Why should they be concerned about climate change?
It doesn’t seem fair that so many people in the world who have contributed so little to the problem are already experiencing serious impacts from climate change, such as flooding in India and the drought in Africa.
My inner voice tells me that I might be more effective if I remained in the US to work on educating US policymakers who are the real culprits. Americans must make huge changes very quickly if the world is going to have a prayer of pulling back from the edge. Watch this 17 minute TEDxTalk (Climate Change is Simple) and you’ll understand how our window of opportunity is closing rapidly.
But I feel drawn to Gaza, and I’m looking forward to learning from my students and friends there. And maybe, in the process, I can help open the eyes of US policymakers about our role in perpetuating Israel’s occupation of Palestine.