Today I’m returning home — it’s been a year!
I left Albuquerque last September headed to Gaza, Palestine. I didn’t know what I might find there. My intention was to teach environmental engineering students about climate change, and to meet people and learn what was really going on in that hot spot in the world.
I didn’t trust the mainstream Western media feeding me a diet of one-sided (I’ll let you guess which side) “facts” about the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians. The information I was learning from the other side was coming from sources who had never traveled to Gaza, and so I wasn’t so sure their version of the conflict was accurate either. I wanted to see for myself, and I was very fortunate to have the opportunity.
Don’t want to sound melodramatic, but my nine months in Gaza and Cairo changed my life….down to the core. I will never be the same. I’m writing about that experience and hope to publish a lot more.
Honestly, I’m a little apprehensive about returning home because I know I’ve changed but things will be the “same” in my city, my neighborhood, and my circle of friends. Will I fit in? Will I belong? Can I adapt?
I don’t want to adapt. I never want to be that person I was in September 2012.
I went to Gaza to teach — but, in fact, I was the student. I learned far more than I shared with my students. Those lessons are going into my book. A hint about some of the lessons:
- This conflict is about existence and identity — on both sides.
- The occupation is at the core of the conflict, contrary to what our leaders tell us.
- A “terrorist” is in the eye of the beholder. Americans and Israelis do not have a patent on the use of that term.
- Home is wherever the people are that love you and care for you. My home is as much in Gaza as in Albuquerque.
Oops! They are calling my plane. Boarding has begun. Salaam!