Originally, I just wanted to create a temporary blog so I could update my friends and family about what I’m doing in Palestine, where I volunteered to teach with Music Harvest. However, I realized that I’m in a unique position of showing what Palestinian life is like from the perspective of the people living there, as opposed to the biased and often sensationalized articles in the media. Even after I leave Palestine, I think I’ll continue writing here; this blog falls at the intersection of several of my major interests right now, including music, travel, writing, language-learning, and communication. Seeing how I don’t plan on discontinuing any of those interests anytime soon, I might as well keep jotting down what I’m up to every once in a while.
*** Quick note to anyone thinking of applying to volunteer in another country: There are millions of scholarships and grants out there designed to make volunteering affordable. It takes a bit of research to find them, and a lot of work to apply for them, but it’s totally worth it if you’re volunteering for the right reasons. That being said, there are many volunteer organizations out there that try to make a profit off of volunteers, and essentially want to sell you an exotic trip that makes you feel good about yourself for a large sum of money. This is known as voluntourism, and it can actually result in harming the community it claims to help. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to serve while experiencing another country, but it’s important to make sure your organization is acting responsibility within it’s community before beginning to make your trip a reality. ***
A special thanks to UC Santa Cruz’s Porter College for awarding me the Foley-Mendelssohn Travel scholarship, which funded the entirety of my trip and volunteer-ship in the West Bank. Although Palestine has a vast network of NGOs, funding is a constant concern. Music Harvest and Project Hope did as much as they could to make volunteering affordable, but without this travel scholarship I may not have been able to begin the program at all.
Click here for more information about Nathan Samuel Foley-Mendelssohn, in whose memory the scholarship was established.
As a volunteer, I had the pleasure of working with Music Harvest and Project Hope while teaching music to kids in Palestine. These two organizations are partners, and are almost entirely funded by donations. Without them, thousands of children wouldn’t have had the opportunity to learn music, English, or French. While they do a lot supplement education in Palestine, they also act with responsibility and respect towards the culture in this region, taking care to act accordingly within each individual society.
If you would like to make a contribution to one of these organizations, donating is online and easy to do.
To donate to Music Harvest, click here
To donate to Project Hope, click here