Gaza: the full picture

When doing a Google search for images of the Gaza Strip, Palestine, you may really struggle to find images that are not of rubble, explosions, smoke, young people (usually men) with their face covered, looking threatening. Below is a screenshot showing the first few images that came up when searching the word ‘Gaza’ on Google Images today.

Google’s Gaza

Since Google tailors its results according to previous searches, you may get images that are a bit different. However, whether they come from supportive websites or websites that are hostile, the images are almost invariably along the lines of the ones above. We know, because, when we were putting together the Online Arabic from Palestine language course, we had to scroll through huge amounts of these images to find some that were not of war, misery and destruction.

When our Palestinian colleagues in Gaza send us pictures for this blog’s gallery, the screenshot of the drive where the images were stored could not be more different from the one above. Compare the two!

‘Our’ Gaza

Life in the Gaza Strip is indeed hard: we do not wish to minimise this. But there are people in Gaza who are keen to show that hardship and pain are not all there is in Gaza, that people there are living their everyday lives in the best way they can under the circumstances. That Palestinians in Gaza are managing to hold on to their dignity, hopes and great determination to lead lives as normal as possible, even in the ‘abnormal’ circumstances of the situation they are in.

Kholoud Nassar is a young Palestinian woman who lives in the Gaza Strip. She uses her Instagram account to show ‘the full picture’ of life in Gaza, one which acknowledges that there is war and destruction, but that this is not all. You can watch how she portrays Gaza in the BBC documentary ‘The Instagrammer who wants to show a different side of Gaza‘.

The Khaldi Twins have also been making videos about the Gaza Strip and life in Gaza for a few years now. They too do not deny that life in Gaza is harsh, but they wish to show also all the good things that happen in Gaza. If you have access to Facebook, you may want to check out their page.

This Gaza of both suffering and strenght is the Gaza that our Online Arabic from Palestine shows too. Designed for total beginners, this course is taught by qualified, trained teachers based in Gaza. It will show you the many bright facets of life in the Gaza Strip. You can register through the ‘contact‘ button or by writing directly the Arabic Center at the Islamic University of Gaza.

Guess what? We’re working together again! 😊

After the launch of the Online Arabic from Palestine (OAfP) course, we felt a bit sad. Sure, it was great that the course was finished on time, and that it was now being taught by our colleagues at the Arabic Center, but at the same time this meant that our ‘baby’ had grown up and left home, and now the home felt a bit empty. So, when we were offered a chance to do some more work on the OAfP, we couldn’t believe our luck and we grabbed it with both hands!

Now the joys of Skype communication are back in our weekly agenda, as are the emails that have a mind of their own and self-format in Arabic and English (apparently at random). The sharing of pictures and information on WhatsApp is back, and so is the sending of Facebook messages and emoticons to each other. In short, we’re back to our working closely together through screens of all shapes and sizes, to being colleagues in this ‘bounded’ world of ours that sits at the crossroads of ‘virtual’ and ‘real’ reality. A world that we’d been missing for a couple of months, even though it can sometimes be quite a difficult one.

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Here we go again…

During this new project we are putting together a teachers’ guide for the Arabic course and training new teachers in the Gaza Strip so that they can teach the course and make the most of our wonderful materials. We will also revamp the course’s website and we plan to do a lot of promotion of the course through holding workshops (in the UK and the Gaza Strip) and an online symposium…

…so, once again: watch this space!

Online Arabic from Palestine course now launched!

The sun was shining in the Gaza Strip, yesterday morning, when the Online Arabic from Palestine language course for beginners was launched officially at the Islamic University of Gaza. The weather was much less kind to the Glasgow launch, yesterday afternoon, when people had to brave the Ali storm to come and celebrate the official release of the new course.

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As so many times before during the many months of collaboration that led to yesterday’s launch, the Glasgow team was in Gaza, speaking from a screen to a room full of proud people, while our Gaza colleagues were later a presence on a screen  in Glasgow, telling about their experiences and roles in the design and development of the Online Arabic from Palestine course. As so many times before, we documented the events, sharing the dizzying kaleidoscope of photographs of people on screens and in person in each other’s rooms from each other’s points of view…

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But sometimes miracles happen, and people manage to escape the confines of screens and meet in real life. Sahar, our IUG colleague (who is Sara in the course’s videos) arrived in the UK just a few days ago to study. Despite having a million things to do and having to recover from her long journey, she was willing – actually, delighted – to travel again to be with us, on this side of the screen, in the room she knew so well from all our Skype meetings over the years (“It’s much bigger than I thought!” was her first comment).

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So our colleague and friend Sahar was with us outside the screen, decorating with leaves the table for the post-launch celebrations, gifting Palestinian embroidery bracelets, slicing pomegranates, taking people through the course at the launch event, and being enthusiastic about everything (despite Ali!). And showing everyone that screens can be portals, through which flesh and blood connections can be made.WhatsApp Image 2018-09-19 at 10.50.57.jpeg