A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step

Sometimes the most beautiful things are the hardest to describe. There is something about Palermo, or I would have called it “The city of Love and Tenderness”, that separates you from the rest of the world to reflect, act, learn and have fun. “Buongiorno signorina, Benvenuti in Italia”, the hostess said. At that relieving moment I knew that my journey towards the thousand miles will begin with this step.

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My internship experience in Palermo is an opportunity that I will forever be grateful for and is the time that I cherish most from my work experience thus far. During the first two months in Palermo, I was immersed in a culture that is very different than my own which allowed me to open up and expand my formerly limited world view. It exposed me to challenging moments and a plethora of adventures which led me to become a more confident person and thinker, and opened up an infinite amount of opportunities for me to grow as an individual.

As a Palestinian living under the Israeli occupation, where Palestinians have to bargain to gain their simplest human rights and living resources, I had the eager to use this mobility to help me help other disprivileged immigrants in Palermo. Luckily, I was able to work in three different precious organizations: HRYO (Human Rights Youth Organization), Santa Chiara (Kindergarden for Immigrant kids) and Cesie (the host organization, to help Youth).

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Moreover, throughout the years I have travelled to many different countries in Europe. However, I never found this support for the Palestinian case as I found among the people here in Palermo; I was thrilled with the recognition and the eligibility of the land to the Palestinian among the Italians in general which made me even in love with this country as a whole package. In Palermo, you are accepted the way you are whatever was your religion, color, political point of view or even the football team you support. There, you are free to express your ideas, political views or religion the way you want without judging.

I am eternally grateful for the time to thoroughly explore and discover so much about what it means to appreciate a world different than what I am used to and interact with people that gave me a positively dynamic perspective on life. While the memories will always be with me, with the passing of time, some of those vivid details that I hold so close to my heart may fade. However, when I look at the hundreds of pictures that I took in Palermo; when I gaze fondly at those huge smiles, bright, shining faces, and dazzling eyes, the old building, the amazing churches, the “arancina”, the “brioscia”, the beautiful sea and mostly the loving people I will remember that forever.

Even though my abroad experience has come and almost done, my outlook and approach to life today is greatly influenced by my time in Palermo and I know that one day I will return to the “City of Love” again.

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