This article is a result of a series of 7 interviews done to the 35 participants of Aroma: design the smell of challenge project — organised by Aventura Marão Clube in Amarante (Portugal), between 2nd to 10th July. During 10 days, the participants from Greece, Romania, Italy, Palestine, Tunisia, Egypt and Portugal, worked together to organise a Bike Parade, an Euromed Food Day and support a local street festival called Festa Amarantina. During the interviews we had the opportunity to know them all better, find out why they chose to be a part of this project and how this experience turned out.
From Palestine we had the pleasure to welcome Yara, Yaffa, Loai, Manar and Abdallah, all very warm and friendly people. They told us that they were very eager to take part in this international project. They wanted to meet and interact with other cultures and also teach others something about their own.
The team was very excited with Festa Amarantina. They brought with them their traditional clothes, food and sweets. The Palestinians gladly shared their culture with anyone who was interested in learning. They consider themselves happy and positive people who love life, in spite of all the problems they have going on in their country.
We spoke about the biggest misconception about Palestine and the team said that because they are under the occupation of Israel, people tend to believe that they are a part of it. In fact, Palestine and Israel are two different countries. Something else that people might not know is that in their country they have separation walls and many check points between cities, villages and so on. Therefore, people have very little freedom and are not able to enjoy all the beautiful landscapes of Palestine. They are unfortunately, prisoners in their own country.
When asked about the biggest differences between Portugal and Palestine, the team pointed the culture, the language, the food and the weather. However, even though the big differences, they greatly enjoyed what they discovered here in Portugal.
The first thing the Palestinians would share with their friends and family about their experience here would be – the beautiful nature, the calm streets, the historical places and the kind and creative people they met during the project.
Something surprising about their culture is that they have a strong social life, friends and family are constantly visiting each other. Another interesting thing that the Palestinians would like people to know is that they have many beautiful holy places – for example the Dome of the Rock, the al-Aqsa Mosque, the Western Wall of the Temple Mount (holy to Jews) and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (holy to Christians).
We also spoke about the biggest challenges that youth is facing in their country, which is obtaining a Visa. Due to this problem they don’t have the opportunity to travel very often. When they do they have to use the airports in Jordan because they do not have any in their country. They don’t have a consulate in Palestine and the Visa takes about one moth to be processed.
It took them 24 hours to travel to Portugal, but it was worth it! They feel very grateful for taking part of the Aroma project.
Interviews and article by Denisa Gavriloni
(Participant of Aroma Project)